Key Elements of a School Head Contract

Vol. 16 No. 3

trustees eletter vol16 no3 contract

The School Head is the sole employee of the Board. A reasonable contractual agreement encourages moderation, compromise, and perspective for this professional relationship. Far from denying mutual trust, a contract confirms it.

Recognize that it is not easy to work for a Board. There are bound to be different expectations, interpretations, and orientations. To keep all members in a positive frame of mind is a near impossibility. Thus, it is important to have responsibilities and expectations spelled out.

The School Head contract must define relationships, solidify the Board’s expectations of the Head, and spell out specific deadlines. Any agreement should go both ways. The interests of each party should be served, such that the school's clients (parents and students) are the ultimate beneficiaries. At the least, a Head contract should address the following elements.

  • Specifics of salary and benefits should be absolutely clear.
  • A contract should require periodic reviews of performance. The stipulations of the contract must be clear to the Head Support and Evaluation Committee (HSEC).
  • The Board should allow the Head to announce intentions of leaving well before separation, without penalty.
  • The Head should tell the Board when he or she is in contact with another school, whether there is any intent to pursue the possibility of a new position.
  • Clearly define the school's financial obligation to the Head if the Board decides the Head must leave before the end of the contract. Also stipulate that obligations should cease if the Head acts irresponsibly or breaks the terms of the contract.

If either party fails to satisfy the stated conditions, then the contract should provide for consequences—unless there is some mutually satisfactory negotiation. No one gains from a lawsuit.

Fortunately, most professional educators strive assiduously to live up to high standards of behavior, even while under stress with their Boards. School Heads know that their futures are dependent on positive recommendations from the HSEC. Even under long "lame-duck" conditions, most Heads remain faithful to professional standards. The “closed-circuit” nature of private schools dictates such conformity.

The relationship between the Head and the Board should be predictable, supportive, and reciprocal. Use the Head contract to describe and build a strong partnership.

Additional ISM resources:
The Source for Trustees Vol. 11 No. 10 How to Enhance Board-Head Relationships
The Source for Trustees Vol. 13 No. 6 Five Key Reasons to Develop a Head Evaluation Process

Additional ISM resources for Gold Consortium members:
I&P Vol. 32 No. 1 The Board’s Contract With the School Head: Solidify Expectations, Define Relationships
I&P Vol. 32 No. 1 An Annotated School Head Contract
I&P Vol. 42 No. 8 The Head Support and Evaluation Committee: An Update
I&P Vol. 41 No. 13 School Head Evaluation: Essential Expectations

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