Superintendent and School Board Relationships: Applying Leadership Strategies to Maintain Quality Public Schools During an Economic Recession

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Virginia Tech

This study describes the strategies that were employed by the Frederick County Public Schools Superintendent and the School Board to maintain instructional programming while assuring continued support for schools by the local governing body during the economic recession of 2007-2009. Despite reductions in state appropriations beginning in 2008 and continuing through 2011, division leaders worked closely with the county Board of Supervisors to support public schools and local governmental services, even as the local economy faltered. While other local governments annually reduced appropriations to schools, effort by the Frederick County School Board and its administrative leadership to foster a positive relationship with the Board of Supervisors led to only one operating fund reduction in fiscal year 2010, as the schools' share of the projected local revenue shortfall. This study describes those actions that promoted and improved trust between the School Board and the Board of Supervisors. This study addresses the following research questions:

  1. What political and relationship factors contributed to maintaining level local funding in fiscal year 2010 and beyond by the local Board of Supervisors?
  2. What strategies were employed by the School Board and division leadership to reduce operating expenditures and maintain quality education programs for all students?
  3. How did State Fiscal Stabilization Funds provided under the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act influence decision making for fiscal year 2010?

Some of the actions taken by the School Board and the Board of Supervisors may be representative of those steps taken to address revenue shortfalls by other Virginia local governments. However, each community has had unique financial challenges to overcome. Not all actions described will be generalizable to other communities. As economic uncertainty continues at the time of this study, the findings may foreshadow how public education will be supported in the future.

Superintendent-School Board, Leadership, Decision-making, Board of Supervisors, Finance