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3 key questions for school leaders this spring

It’s hard to believe, but it’s already April.

For school leaders across the country, spring marks that turning point where year-end planning kicks into high gear.

From school security to choice to funding, administrators have a lot to think about. They also have a lot to do in the ensuing months to ensure their schools and students are positioned to succeed next fall.

Here are three important questions every school leader needs to ask:

Is customer service a priority in your district?

Schools aren’t businesses. But they do have customers. In an era of increased school choice and competition, ensuring that students, parents, and staff have a positive experience when they engage your district is critical to your continued success.

As former school superintendent Dr. Gerald Dawkins writes, customer service is something good school districts do everyday–whether they realize it or not:

When I was superintendent, I employed a simple rule of thumb: For every 100 students enrolled in my district, I assumed that I would have at least one staff member who spent some part of their day performing customer service. They might not have had the words “customer” or “service” in their title. Those words might not have appeared anywhere in their job description–but these team members spent time on the phone with parents, or meeting with community members in our schools. They spent time doing customer service, and they worked in every department.”

Does your school district embrace a customer-first mindset? Share your stories in the comments.

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Do students have a strong voice in your district?

The last year has seen a marked increase in K-12 student activism–primarily around school safety.

From student walkouts to massive marches in Washington, D.C., students are proving that they have opinions on important issues–and that they want to be heard.

The question now is: Are we listening?

Are you cultivating a strong relationship with teachers and staff?

Despite a recovering economy, a report from AASA shows that school budgets have been largely flat for nearly a decade. In several states, dwindling budgets have resulted in years-long pay freezes for K-12 teachers.

School budgets might not be easy to control. But understanding teacher frustrations and mitigating the challenges they face, both personal and professional, certainly is.

To build stronger relationships with teachers and staff, your district has to display strong internal customer service. “Our focus shouldn’t be only on great external customer service,” Dawkins writes. “How you treat your internal customers matters a great deal as well.”

What challenges is your school or district facing this spring? Do these questions ring true to you as we enter the final months of this school year? Tell us in the comments.