Superintendent Jim Rigg of the Archdiocese offers an illuminating look at what it takes to be a successful superintendent.  As the overseer of the nation’s largest Catholic school system, he is responsible for nearly 217 schools and just under 80,000 students.  Rigg tries to spend one day each week visiting 3-4 schools in order to keep his finger on the pulse and to see the “genuine lived reality” of his schools.  And he shows a remarkable understanding of the science and art of managing a school system.

The science?  Rigg has helped pioneer the movement toward measuring school vitality.  Growing out of their strategic plan, the schools’ office measures the operational, faith, and educational vitalities of their school.  Providing a scorecards, or metrics, the measures drive the turnaround program which is designed to allocate strategic resources to schools in need.  But how do you know where the most pressing need exists?

The measures of school vitality measure the enrollment management, cost per student, the market potential, and the financial & operations realities of the schools.  There is a data-driven way to measure the strengths of the schools.  In the same way, his office has developed the strength of a school’s Catholic identity and educational programs.  This is a remarkable effort that has caught on as school systems have embraced data-driven measures.

The science of data only really works if you are able to direct strategic resources to those schools in need.  But Rigg admits that managing schools is also an art and can’t always be quantified.

The art of school management requires more than metrics.  It involves effective leadership selection and formation, quality professional development, and visioning for the future.  Rigg embraces both science and art in promoting school improvement, long-term sustainability, and increased enrollment.

Listen to the podcast directly here or on iTunes here.  Rigg’s podcast also fits in well with other superintendent interviews such as Kevin Baxter (Los Angeles), Anna Larriviere (Lafayette), Chris Mominey (Philadelphia), Mary Beth Mueller (Phoenix), Julie Vogel (Houston), and Kathy Mears (Boston).

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