Friday, December 3, 2010

Travel sanity in the Sault

The Huron-Superior Catholic DSB's new chair had some interesting ideas earlier this week when the new term of trustees selected its leaders for the coming year. The Sault Star covered the election and the comments on the burden of travel for those in the education sector. From the article:
(Sault Ste. Marie trustee Laurie Aceti) said an issue the board increasingly grapples with is the Ministry of Education's travel demands on senior administrators, who can be required to be in Toronto as often as once a week some months.
She said it is "burning our superintendents out."
"I think it's very difficult on them personally to get everything done," said Aceti. "You quite often find them here on the weekends or in the evenings."
Aceti said she hopes to see the board push for a web seminar solution to the problem.
"The technology they use for distance education, maybe we can look at doing something differently, changing it up a little bit," said the Mount St. Joseph College graduate.
Not that much of a stretch of logic, right? The ministry certainly knows about web-based conferencing-- often on the grants for student needs announcement day there is a webcast for board chairs, directors and treasury employees. The ministry has used the technique for other announcements as well with both boards and media.
It brings to mind a series I worked on several years ago titled "Travelling educators," which focused on mostly itinerant board employees who, due to their specialties or the lack of a critical mass of students for their subject areas in one school, spent an increasing portion of their day in their vehicles instead of working with students. Superintendents aren't that different.
If the most important person in a student's success while at school is the classroom teacher, the school principal's most important role is to support that classroom teacher. By extension, the superintendent's most important role is to support the principals and vice-principals within their families of schools. If they have to travel to Toronto every week, then the links in the chain start to fall apart.