The first county superintendent assumed duties in 1876, 13 years before North Dakota became a state. By 1889, the year N.D. entered the union, 38 superintendents were on the job. Well educated and in a position of high profile, superintendents often became community leaders and several held leadership positions with the state. The office maintains valuable student records spanning over 100 years and handles a wealth of records useful in historical research.
The Superintendent's duties fill student's lives with activities they will long remember, including spelling bees, MATHCOUNTS, and other local and state contests. Superintendents plan and conduct workshops for the training of school bus drivers. They assist teachers and administrators and provide information on school law and legislative matters. The county superintendent assumes the primary responsibility in restructuring school district boundaries. The future sees an increasing need for this process which includes: education and guidance for patrons; extensive knowledge and implementation of legal procedures; detailed descriptions of land areas; and documentation of public testimony. With more school districts consolidating and more state control of local programs, county superintendents have taken on greater roles as record keepers, coordinators and technical advisors.
County superintendents evaluate the needs of schools under their jurisdiction and develop a full service plan accordingly. For smaller schools that do not have a superintendent, the county superintendent serves in that capacity.