Date of Award

5-2015

Culminating Project Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Educational Administration and Leadership, K-12: Ed.D.

Department

Educational Administration and Higher Education

College

School of Education

First Advisor

Roger Worner

Second Advisor

John Eller

Third Advisor

Nicholas Miller

Fourth Advisor

Kay Worner

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to ascertain and rate the importance of factors which were perceived by school board members as pivotal in their decisions to consolidate their school districts with one or more other school districts. Additionally, this study intended to determine whether or not school board members – serving at the time of a school district’s consolidation–continued to agree with the value of that consolidation decision and if so, the comparative strength of their perceptions of the outcomes of consolidation of the school district at the time of consolidation and the degree to which those perceptions continued to hold true at the time of the conduct of this study.

Data from select Minnesota school board members serving on governing Boards at the time of a school district consolidation vote. The sample included school board members from among the 11 different school districts which voted to consolidate into five school districts between the years 2000 and 2006. Data were gathered from two sample groups. Quantitative data were gathered from the aggregate sample of school board members. Qualitative data were gathered from a subset of the aggregate sample to provide a more detailed examination of the experiences and perceptions related to the research questions.

The study found that declining student enrollment ranked highest among selected factors by responding school board members as the factor most influencing their votes in favor of school district consolidation. The factors declining programs, services, staffing and/or courses and an imbalanced or declining general fund were second or third most influential depending upon the type of analysis. As many as fifteen years after respondents’ voted in favor of consolidating their school districts, strong levels of agreement remained with the votes in favor of the consolidations.

The study of factors influencing votes in favor of Minnesota public school consolidation is important because consolidation of school districts nationally and in Minnesota has occurred over the past one hundred-fifty years (Minnesota School Law, 1849). Despite this fact, consolidation is a reform choice that has rarely been examined in Minnesota public school districts. Given existing fiscal constraints at the state level, increasing expectations for accountability and changing demographics - largely evidenced by declining student enrollment - among a large majority of Minnesota school districts, consolidation likely will remain a viable option for consideration in the foreseeable future and, thus, merits comprehensive study.

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