In my newest book, Governing at the Top (Rowman & Littlefield, 2014), I describe the working relationship between the superintendent and her board president/chair as a “critical piece of the overall board-superintendent partnership building puzzle, primarily because of the president’s formal authority and influence in the governing realm.” I go on to point out that the school board president, who serves as the “CEO” of the board, is “in a good position to either assist the superintendent in cementing his working relationship with the board or, as sometimes happens, to impede the development of a close and productive board-superintendent partnership. Recognizing this, board-savvy superintendents never fail to make developing an effective working relationship with their board a top-tier priority.”
Open, honest, and frequent communication and collaboration between the school board president and superintendent are without question important means of keeping the working relationship healthy. For this to happen, in my experience, a superintendent must be what David Brooks calls a “unifying leader” who is “skilled at the art of collaboration” in his Op-Ed column in the November 25 New York Times. This is the subject that superintendents Gregory Hutchings (the Shaker Heights Schools in Ohio) and Karen Rue (the Northwest Independent School District in Texas) discuss in this informative new podcast, drawing on their real-life experience as active collaborators with their school board presidents.
Meanwhile, you might be interested in this brief video that AASA published, providing an overview of Governing at the Top.