This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

Alabama School Board Presidents’ Perceptions of Community Engagement




Starnes, Tammy

Type of Degree



Education Foundation, Leadership, and Technology


The purpose of this study was to examine the perceptions of Alabama School Board Presidents about community engagement in school board decision making. An exploratory research design was used and data were collected by survey. The survey was mailed to 128 school board presidents representing the 128 school districts statewide (as of 2006). Sixty surveys were completed, returned and analyzed, yielding a 47% return rate. Demographic information was collected and used as a variable when analyzing other data. Quantitative survey responses were analyzed using analysis of variance and frequency of distribution, and an emergent theme approach was used when analyzing the open-ended responses. Findings suggest the majority of the school board presidents participating in this study valued the opinions of administrators, teachers, and staff most when making school board decisions and valued the opinions of people in the community without children least. When communicating with administrators, teachers, and staff the most commonly used approach was email then via local media. The most common way of communicating with people without children was through the local media and then via community presentations. School board presidents reported that overall there was limited community engagement included in their decision making. These findings are troubling because school boards serve as a link between the school system and their community. According to some researchers (Harmon & Dickens, 2004; Meier, 2003a, 2003b) school board members’ responsibility includes reaching out and helping all iii populations of the community learn how to be invested in the education system. School board members should consider providing opportunities for all sections of the population to have a sense of ownership in the school system and the education of our future by teaching the public how to be more involved in the decision-making process for their school system.