Date of Award

Spring 5-25-2019

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)

Department

Curriculum, Instruction, and Leadership

First Advisor

D. Randall Parker

Abstract

This dissertation examined how superintendents of public-school districts respond to the financial impact of school choice competition. Many U. S. school districts are experiencing funding losses due to the enrollment of students in charter schools and private school voucher programs. The state per-pupil funds follow the student. District leaders must respond to this loss of funding and still maintain high quality instruction and services. The purpose of this research was to explore how leaders develop strategic plans to deal with the fiscal impact of school choice competition. Complexity Leadership Theory was used to view how school district leaders perceive competition, respond to the loss of revenue and what positive outcomes of school choice competition have been realized. Case study methodology was used to conduct an in-depth study of a single school district that has experienced significant financial loss to school choice and is responding intentionally. The current and former superintendent of the district and leaders on their staff were interviewed as well as the director of a charter school in the community. School system superintendents exhibited a strong sense of community and ownership of all students that live in the district. Superintendents believe that competition is good. Competition causes district leaders to improve instruction, facilities, and services to students. School district leaders asserted that there is unfairness or inequity in the implementation of charter school funding and governance and believe that charter schools provide a means for racial segregation. They recognized the need to build partnerships with charter leaders to build community support for education. In this district, the superintendent found that addressing the loss of funds to charter school competition was less about finances and more about leadership. Leading a district that is significantly impacted by school choice competition necessitates leading the community to support the education of all students. This includes building partnerships with the charter school leaders, empowering innovation in school leaders, and, educating the community on the needs of schools, to provide the best educational opportunities for all children regardless of the school they attend.

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