A survey of Iowa school superintendents finds more than a third of those questioned plan to retire within the next few years. In response, the University of Iowa is launching a superintendent licensure program. Ann Sullivan, a professor of educational administration policy at the U-of-I, says the two-year program will start this summer.
“The majority of people that will apply to our program will probably be sitting principals who aspire to some sort of district-level leadership,” Sullivan says. “That might be the superintendent’s seat but it could also be business manager, human resources director, curriculum and instruction director, but the focus will really be district-level leadership.”
A survey last year by the Iowa Department of Education found more than half of the state’s 337 superintendents were between the ages of 51 and 60 years old, and 26-percent of them were eligible to retire last school year. Of the 208 Iowa superintendents who responded, 77 superintendents – or about 37 percent — indicated they would only work between one and five more years.
“We’re definitely looking at a leadership shortage in Iowa and nationally and actually, globally,” Sullivan says. “There’s been studies done in England that they’re looking for ways to address their leadership shortage. It’s definitely something we want to do. We want to make sure in Iowa we’re growing our own good people to take over the openings that we’re going to have in the state.” This will be the fourth superintendent preparation program in the state, joining programs at Drake University, Iowa State and U.N.I. Sullivan says the version offered in Iowa City will be set apart.
“What makes ours unique is we have a different kind of a delivery system,” Sullivan says. “We have a hybrid between face-to-face, so students will come on campus in the summer for face-to-face course work, and then during the fall and spring semesters, they have to option of distance ed.” She hopes to see at least a dozen students enrolled in the program in its first year. Students must hold a master’s degree in educational administration or a relevant field to apply.
Thirty-two semester hours are required for superintendent endorsement and with five more hours of elective credit, students can earn an educational specialist degree (Ed.S). The U-of-I got the okay to launch the program from the state Board of Education earlier this month.