Practices of board presidents and superintendents in academically high-achieving Texas urban school districts
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The purpose of this research was to identify practices and activities of school board governance in large urban Texas school districts that achieved an academic rating of Recognized during the 2005-06 school year. Specifically, this research was designed to identify the practices that board presidents and superintendents felt were beneficial and necessary in assisting their boards to govern in an appropriate manner. The research questions that guided this process are: 1) How is the board involved in policy development and district planning that contributes to governing the school district? 2) What practices are used in the management, operation, and training of the board and individual board members for effective school board governance? 3) What practices have proven beneficial for effective communication among school board members and between the board and superintendent, and how does the board evaluate its own governing effectiveness? 4) What are critical areas affecting school boards and their ability to successfully and effectively govern? This study used qualitative research methods to examine and identify the strategies and practices employed by superintendents and board presidents in assisting boards to properly and efficiently govern their school districts. Data for this study was collected through publicly accessible information from the Texas Education Agency’s web site and a series of one-on-one interviews with superintendents and board presidents in academically high-achieving large Texas urban school districts. After transcription of the interviews, the resulting data was coded and emerging categories and themes identified through Grounded Theory qualitative research methods and procedures. Based on analysis of the research, board presidents and superintendents identified the following practices for their boards: establishing salaries early in the budget process; regularly contacting local, state, and federal policymakers about educational issues; establishing annual goals and performance criteria for the district and superintendent from a district-wide strategic plan; providing the board with multiple opportunities of involvement each month to meet and discuss district issues; identifying and attending multiple levels of continuous board training; being visible in the community by attending school and community events; providing all board members with extensive and ongoing information from the school district; having clearly defined board operating procedures; and being an advocate for the school district as well as voicing support for the administration. Regardless of the size of the school district, the findings of this research will enhance superintendents’ and board presidents’ understanding of the activities and practices used by board presidents and superintendents in academically high-achieving Texas urban school districts.