INDIANAPOLIS – Daniel Hile, superintendent of Smith-Green Community Schools in Churubusco, has been chosen by members of the Indiana Association of Public School Superintendents as the District II Superintendent of the Year for 2022.
Winners are selected by other superintendents in their district who evaluate candidates for their leadership, communications, professionalism and community involvement.
Hile has been superintendent of Smith-Green Community Schools since 2017, after serving the district as a teacher, assistant principal and principal.
The district was in a financial deficit when Hile became superintendent, and the quality of programming for students and support for staff was in decline. District leaders decided the only course forward was to ask the community to vote for a referendum to authorize additional operating funds. Hile spent the first year of his superintendency engaging with the community to share facts about the district’s finances and gain support for returning the district to financial solvency.
Following multiple “Town Hall-style” community meetings and fact-gathering sessions, many hours of outreach and communication, and the development of a shared vision for the future, the community ultimately approved the referendum. Although the approved referendum allows the district to use an additional tax rate of up to $0.628, the district used a rate of $0.33 for the first two years and $.0294 in the current year, easing the burden on taxpayers.
The referendum funding was used to increase needed and required professional development to better prepare teachers to meet students’ needs. The district also improved salaries and benefits to improve staff retention and morale. The additional funding allowed the district to restore its cash balances, to ensure the district is financially sound and prepared for possible emergencies. With the financial future of the school corporation secured, the district was then able to shift its focus to transforming schools to meet the academic, social, and emotional needs of its students.
As a result of the conversations and feedback received through the referendum process and other experiences, Hile remains committed to ongoing communication and transparency with the community, in all areas. The district developed a financial transparency dashboard on its website, allowing community members to review financial data and see how the district spends the various funds it receives. Additionally, the school corporation uses a variety of communication strategies to keep families informed, including frequent videos to address important topics and share timely updates.
Hile is a passionate advocate for public education, and is actively involved with local, state, and national leaders. He has met with various legislators and testified at the Indiana Statehouse on a variety of topics, and has also traveled to Washington, D.C. to advocate for the children of Indiana. This advocacy has taken on a new urgency and importance during the ongoing pandemic, as unique stresses and needs have developed for not only students, but for school staff and families as well.
Hile graduated from Indiana University with a bachelor’s degree in music education, earned his master’s degree in education administration from Indiana University-Fort Wayne, and his Ph.D. in educational leadership from Purdue University.
Hile is a member of the Purdue University Educational Leadership and Policy Studies Advisory Board and chairs the Upper Wabash Valley Superintendent Study Council. He is also a Governing Board member of the American Association of School Administrators and serves on the Executive Board for the Indiana Association of Public School Superintendents.