Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Nonprofit and Social Economy Research

Governance in Transformation: Alberta School Board Chairs' Perspectives

Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Nonprofit and Social Economy Research

Governance in Transformation: Alberta School Board Chairs' Perspectives

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT

School boards are typically removed from nonprofit sector analyses because they are part of the "MUSH" set of organizations (municipalities, universities, schools, and hospitals) that both stand outside of the more typical nonprofit sector and tend to be closely affiliated with government. Nevertheless, school boards offer a unique opportunity to examine the governance of a large system of regulated activity that affects millions of citizens. How such systems should be governed has been a matter of concern for nearly 40 years. This study presents data from Alberta school board chairs regarding their perception of governance transformation being brought about by legislative changes. Five dimensions of governance are proposed as defining the current and anticipated governance domain within which school boards operate. Tensions within and between these dimensions signify symbolic boundary constructions that need to be scrutinized in anticipation of the governance transformation and boundary spanning activities of school boards required by the new legislation.

RÉSUMÉ

Les conseils scolaires sont généralement retirés des analyses du secteur communautaire parce qu'ils font partie de l'ensemble d'organisations « MUSH » (les municipalités, les universités, les écoles et les hôpitaux); ces organisations se distinguent du secteur communautaire typique et ont tendance à être étroitement associées au gouvernement. Néanmoins, les conseils scolaires offrent une occasion unique d'observer la gouvernance d'un vaste système d'activités réglementées qui affecte des millions de citoyens. La façon dont de tels systèmes devraient être gérés fait l'objet de préoccupations depuis presque 40 ans. Cette étude présente les perceptions de présidents de conseils scolaires de l'Alberta en ce qui a trait à la transformation de la gouvernance apportée par des modifications à la loi. Cinq dimensions de la gouvernance sont proposées pour définir à la fois le domaine de gouvernance dans le cadre duquel fonctionnent actuellement les conseils scolaires et celui dans le cadre duquel il est prévu qu'ils fonctionneront. Les tensions entre ces dimensions et les tensions au sein de celles-ci indiquent des constructions de frontières symboliques qui nécessitent un examen minutieux dans le but de prévoir la transformation de la gouvernance ainsi que les activités d'expansion des conseils scolaires exigées par la nouvelle législation.

Keywords / Mots clés : Governance; School board; Education; Legislation; Transformation; Alberta / Gouvernance; Conseil scolaire; Éducation; Législation; Transformation; Alberta

INTRODUCTION

School boards have characteristics of both government and nonprofit organizations-they bridge the worlds of the provincial government and local communities at the level of the individual citizen. For nonprofit organizations directly affected by provincial policy, such as service organizations whose funding comes from specific legislation and contracting relationships with governments, the study of school board governance may offer insights into broad system governance. The provincial government's regulations and contracts define how service providers will operate, who they will provide services to, and how much service at what cost will be provided. Therefore, how the Government of Alberta is choosing to articulate governance for school boards should be monitored closely by other systems of service provision in the province as the government seeks to reduce expenses by centralizing and more closely regulating other areas of nonprofit activity.

What kind of governance should be practised by school boards has been under consideration for nearly 40 years in jurisdictions in Canada and around the world. Common areas of concern centre on what it means to be an effective governor and an effective governance body within the context of providing public education. At the root of the concerns is the fundamental question of what is meant by "governance. …

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