Everyone is doing more with less these days. Perhaps no one understands that reality better than the leaders of our public schools.
Superintendents are dealing with greater responsibilities and higher performance standards. The stress is driving many of them to look for other jobs, and causing school systems to lose veteran educators.
Nelson County superintendent Roger Collins has more than 30 years of experience working in K-12 schools throughout Central Virginia. He's known as a frequent visitor at each of his county schools.
"The students come up and give him hugs and high fives," said Rockfish River Elementary School principal, Kimberly Candler. "They're very happy to see him."
Collins spends a lot of time in schools, because he wants to know what students are learning.
During his 11 years as superintendent, he's fought to improve the way student outcomes are assessed. He's also worked to establish an early college program in the county.
It's all part of his goal to make students more prepared for life when they graduate.
"Helping them realize their full potential and seeing them become successful later in life is very rewarding," said Collins.
When Collins leaves his job at the end of June, he'll join a growing list of departing superintendents throughout Virginia.
According to a recent report in the Richmond Times Dispatch, more than half of the state's 133 public school systems have changed superintendents since 2012.
Collins believes added challenges and pressure may be pushing his fellow leaders to find a change of pace.
"There's a lot of scrutiny in any decision you make, whether it be personnel or weather related decisions, or budgetary decisions," Collins explained.
Budgeting is one of the toughest challenges for superintendents. As local and state governments have tightened the belt, school systems have been forced to make drastic cuts.
The stress of making unpopular, but often necessary decisions has led many superintendents to cut their tenures short.
Collins believes the turnover may be a good thing. School systems are getting new blood and a fresh perspective.
"I think there's a very prepared group of rising superintendents and current superintendents that are moving around, who can address the challenges of today," Collins said.
Collins is taking on a new job with the University of Virginia. He'll be doing outreach for the school's Asia Institute.
He's being replaced in Nelson County by Jeff Comer, who is currently a superintendent in Wise County, Virginia.