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Transferring from State Level to School District Administration

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A reader posted the following:

"I was recently downsized from a position in a state education department. I had been there 10 years and had hoped to retire (maybe with one more promotion). Now I find myself an older candidate competing for school district jobs with individuals who are currently employed by that district and have been groomed for the position. I am feeling like I have to take a giant step backward and do not have enough time left to work my way back to where I want to be. Do you have any suggestions for me?"

Several members of AAEE who work in human resources for various school systems and a college career services member have offered some feedback for this scenario:

Many school districts have had to reduce positions because of funding issues. Some former employees have taken the "opportunity" to totally reinvent themselves and have gone back to school and entered the teaching profession. Some have been lucky and found a similar position in a school district (data analysis, licensure, etc.).
Our district eliminated 100 teaching positions due to budget issues for the upcoming year. We are focusing on assessment and accountability and re-purposed positions in order to have staff work with student test data. If you have skills related to assessment, you might market yourself to school districts using this focus. During a difficult job market and state and federal guidelines on assessment tightening, this is an administrative area in which school systems are actually investing personnel dollars.
I have seen a pattern among districts, including my own, where we have hired former state department heads in district positions because they have a unique perspective of what the state is looking for from school districts. For example, we have a number of former Department of Education directors that have found positions as curriculum specialists, coordinators and even principals. The key is to use the networking that you've established during your role with the state.

If you find yourself unclear on your skill set and/or how to translate your strengths to particular positions, contact your alma mater or an area college or university career center. While they may charge you a modest fee, the career counseling services you will receive should be very helpful. Also, other blogs on the Career Corner site can assist you with networking, alternative career areas, and the job search.

Todd Fukai, Cherry Creek Schools, CO
Jack Kronser, Aurora Public Schools, CO
Lois Williams, Shelby County Schools, TN
Deb Snyder, Grove City College, PA

1 Comment

Great advice! I appreciate the reminder to focus on areas where districts ARE actually investing personnel dollars.

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  • jpaz: Great advice! I appreciate the reminder to focus on areas read more