Site-Based Decision-Making: Views from Secondary School Personnel

Article excerpt

With the implementation of site-based decision-making occurring in schools, an understanding of the views of secondary school principals and of secondary school teachers would provide valuable information. In the study, six principals and six teachers, from either high performing or low performing schools, were purposefully selected for their views of site-based decision-making at their respective campuses. For the first research question in which campus characteristics associated with site-based decision-making committees were sought, respondents provided three themes: collaboration; voice/communication; and application/procedures. Regarding ways in which decision-making committees were influencing the decision-making process on the campus level, the themes of site-based decision-making team member composition, empowerment, and negative power were present. Concerning how campus culture was influenced by site-based decision-making, participants responded in terms of the themes of acceptance and of dissatisfaction. Findings and implications are discussed.

Keywords: Site-based decision making; Principals; Teachers

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As part of educational reform efforts, decentralizing school management to individual campuses making site-based decisions has been advocated for some time (Rodriguez & Slate, 2005a, 2005b). Site-based decision-making (SBDM), a process of decentralization in which the school becomes the primary unit of management of educational improvement, creates an avenue for the input of teachers, support staff, parents and the community--individuals who have first hand knowledge of relevant issues related to schools and schooling (Everett, 1998). In this process, school boards and superintendents are being asked to turn over control of decisions concerning curriculum, finance, and school operations to the local school community (Riley, 1999).

Beck and Murphy (1998), in describing proponents of SBDM, asserted that conditions for excellence are dependent upon decision-making systems that can establish organizational performance goals and develop policies, procedures, and systems to ensure their attainment. In her extensive research on The Who, What, Why of Site-Based Management, David (1995/96), maintained that "site-based management may be the most significant reform of the decade--a potential force for empowering educators and communities, yet no two people agree on what it is, how to do it, or even why to do it" (p. 4). In her research, David attempted to differentiate between what site-based management is and is not by indicating that SBDM comes in so many forms that no single definition can capture them all. This leads to the question, "why do it?" Reasons for initiating site-based management cover many areas, yet David stressed that virtually all reasons are cloaked in the language of increasing student achievement. Regardless of educators' perception, the shift in authority is moving towards shared power (Rodriguez & Slate, 2005a, 2005b). This shared power encourages stakeholders at all levels to be involved in making decisions without feeling manipulated (Kowalski, 1993). As stakeholders take part in the site-based decision-making process, it helps educators manage the school, and holds them responsible for results (Texas Education Agency, 2002). As a result, principals, teachers, and other school personnel at the local site are substantially changing the way they have traditionally conducted routine business.

The emphasis on shared decision-making practices at the campus level has led to numerous mandates from states for the implementation of some form of site-based management (Howell, 1999). Texas responded to this emphasis by passing Senate Bill 1 in 1990, which mandated the implementation of site-based decision-making (SBDM). Senate Bill 1 established new funding patterns, student and school accountability procedures, and a site-based management program for Texas public schools (Kemper & Teddlie, 2000). …