Factors Contributing to Positive and Productive Superintendent-Governing Board Relationships
AuthorMcCann, Nathan T.
Committee ChairBosworth, Kris
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractSuperintendents of public school districts occupy positions of tremendous importance and influence (Sharp & Walter, 2004). In total, the nation's approximately 14,000 superintendents are responsible for the educational outcomes of nearly 55 million K-12 students (US Department of Education, 2009). Critical to the superintendent's ability to bring about and maintain positive change in a district is the quality of the relationship the superintendent upholds with the school board (Petersen & Fusarelli, 2001). This study sought to identify strategies that successful superintendents use to establish and maintain positive and productive relationships with their school boards. Successful superintendents in this study were defined as proactive and purposeful superintendents who have demonstrated the ability to get things done and move the school district forward in a coherent and positive direction.Following Brunner's (2000) methodology, a group of six award-winning current and former superintendents were recruited to serve as recommenders, selecting the two superintendents who participated in this study. In an effort to avoid exclusive reliance on superintendent self-perceptions, two school board members from each district were randomly selected to participate. Superintendents and school board members provided data through participation in one of two parallel semi-structured interviews.The results of this study indicated that successful superintendents ultimately sought to develop and maintain within their board an appropriate understanding of their role as board members. This study posed a second question, "What characteristics and attributes do governing board members find desirable in their superintendent?" Governing board members articulated a definitive need to be able to trust their superintendent. Superintendents in this study were acutely aware of this board member need. Governing board members articulated three primary superintendent traits that fostered and nurtured trust in their superintendent, including high-performance, strong communicative skills, and likeability of the superintendent.However, the development of trust was more a means to an end, than an end in itself. Superintendents used these traits to foster trust and ultimately to develop appropriate board member role understanding that focused board member attention and energy on policy objectives and away from administrative and managerial functions.
Degree ProgramGraduate College