A study of the relationship between community participation in educational governance and the socio-political environment of the school board
The purpose of this study was to determine the opinions of local school board members in Maryland regarding community participation in educational decision-making. These opinions were analyzed in relationship to board members' preference for a trustee versus delegate role relationship to the community and other factors of the socio-political environment of the school board.
A questionnaire was mailed to all public school board of education members in Maryland. A return rate of 83.7 percent was obtained. Data gathered was used to determine: 1) what community groups were most involved in educational decision-making, 2) what issues school boards sought community advisory group input on, and 3) what groups had the greatest influence on board decisions.
School boards were also classified by their method of selection, extent of intraboard consensus, and the metropolitanism of the district. Chi-square and regression analysis was utilized to test the consistency of influence of these elements of the socio-political environment on opinions regarding community participation in decision-making.
Respondents reported the greatest involvement in educational decisions by internal groups such as parent groups, teachers' unions, and advisory groups. Board members indicated greatest receptivity to input on decisions relating to school construction and closings, curriculum and instruction, and budget.
An analysis of the relative influence various groups had on school board decisions revealed that the school administration had the greatest influence on board decisions in all decision areas studied.
The analysis of the influence of the socio-political environmental variables revealed the following: 1) board members' preference for a trustee versus delegate role relationship to the community was not affected by method of selection to the board, and 2) metropolitanism of the district and intraboard consensus were not found to be consistent indicators of the socio-political environment of the school board as expressed through opinions regarding community participation.