ERIC Identifier: ED301969 Publication Date: 1988-00-00
Author: Kubick, Kathleen Source: ERIC Clearinghouse on
Educational Management Eugene OR.
School-Based Management. ERIC Digest Series Number EA33.
School-based management (SBM) is an alternative to the typical pattern of
school district governance that centralizes authority in the district office. As
John Lindelow and James Heynderickx (forthcoming) define it, SBM "is a system of
administration in which the school is the primary unit of educational
decision-making." Responsibility for certain decisions about the budget,
personnel, and the curriculum is placed at the school level rather than the
district level, thereby giving especially principals but also teachers,
students, and parents greater control over the educational process.
WHAT ARE SOME OF THE ADVANTAGES OF SCHOOL-BASED MANAGEMENT?
A task force convened by the American Association of School
Administrators, the National Association of Elementary School Principals, and
the National Association of Secondary School Principals (1988) identified nine
advantages, several of which are listed below. School-based management *
formally recognizes the expertise and competence of those who work in individual
schools to make decisions to improve learning * gives teachers, other staff
members, and the community increased input into decisions * improves morale of
teachers * focuses accountability for decisions * brings both financial and
instructional resources in line with the instructional goals developed in each
school * nurtures and stimulates new leaders at all levels * increases both the
quantity and the quality of communication Each school's flexibility to meet the
needs of its students leads to greater creativity in the design of programs.
Budgeting also becomes markedly more realistic. Lindelow and Heynderickx
state that schools no longer need to lobby with the central office for funds.
Instead of requesting more money than is needed (with the hope of receiving a
lesser amount that is sufficient to meet needs), schools receive a "lump sum,"
based on a formula, that they can spend as they see fit. Parents and teachers
become more aware of the cost of programs, the school's financial status, and
its spending limitations.
HOW DOES SBM AFFECT THE ROLES OF THE SCHOOL BOARD, SUPERINTENDENT, AND DISTRICT OFFICE?
The school board's role changes
little in a conversion to SBM. "School-based management does not change the
legal governance system of schools, "says the AASA/NAESP/NASSP task force.
"School boards do not give up authority by sharing authority." The board
continues to set broad policies and establish a clear and unifying vision for
the district and the schools.
The superintendent and district office staff serve to facilitate the actions
being taken at the school level. Their role is to explain the academic and
budgetary goals as well as provide technical assistance when a school has
difficulty translating the district's vision into high-quality programs. The
development of student and staff performance standards and evaluation of the
schools (using students' test results, visits to classrooms, and random
questionnaires) are also the responsibility of the district staff.
The district office also recruits potential employees, conducts the initial
screening of job applicants, and maintains information on qualified applicants,
from whom the schools fill their vacancies.
In the area of curriculum, the district office specifies goals, objectives,
and expected outcomes and then leaves it up to the schools to determine the
methods for producing the desired results. Some districts leave the choice of
texts and materials to the schools, whereas others, to maintain districtwide
curriculum standards, require schools to use common texts.
HOW ARE BUDGET DECISIONS MADE?
In most SBM systems, each
school is given a "lump sum" that the school can spend as it sees fit. In a
budgeting process outlined by JoAnn Spear (1983), the district office determines
the total funds needed by the whole district, determines the districtwide costs
(such as the cost of central administration and transportation), and allocates
the remaining funds to the individual schools. The allocation to each school is
determined by a formula that takes into account the number and type of students
at that school. Often the district is responsible for purchasing and warehousing
supplies and equipment specified by the schools.
Each school determines how to spend the lump sum allocated by the district.
Funds can be spent on personnel, equipment, supplies, and maintenance. The
school's instructional and administrative priorities are expressed through its
budget priorities. Surplus funds can be carried over to the next year or be
shifted to a program that needs more funds; in this way, long-range planning and
efficiency are encouraged.
HOW ARE DECISIONS MADE AT THE SCHOOL LEVEL?
create school-based management councils at the school sites. Each council
includes the principal, representatives of parents and teachers, and, in some
cases, other citizens, support staff, and students (at the secondary level). The
council conducts a needs assessment and then develops a plan of action that
includes statements of goals and measurable objectives. According to Carl
Marburger (1985), the council is not a little school board but helps determine
how the school implements school board policies.
In some districts, the school-based management council makes most
school-level decisions. In other districts, the council advises the principal,
who then makes the decisions. In both cases, the principal has a large role in
the decision-making process, either as part of a team or as the final
WHAT IS NECESSARY WHEN IMPLEMENTING SBM?
beginning, the school board and superintendent must be supportive of
school-based management. They must trust the principals and councils to
determine how to implement the district's goals at the individual schools.
It is important to have a memorandum of agreement that specifies the roles
and responsibilities of the school board, superintendent, principal, and SBM
council. The agreement should explicitly state the standards against which each
school will be held accountable. James Guthrie (1986) states that each school
should produce an annual performance and planning report covering "how well the
school is meeting its goals, how it deploys its resources, and what plans it has
for the future."
Training in such areas as decision-making skills, problem-solving, and group
dynamics is necessary for all participating staff and community members,
especially in the early years of implementation. To meet the new challenges of
the job, principals may need additional training in leadership skills.
WHAT ARE THE LIABILITIES OF SBM?
decision-making sometimes creates frustration and is often slower than more
autocratic methods. The council members must be able to work together and
concentrate on the task at hand.
Council members must spend time on planning and budget matters, leaving
principals and teachers less time to devote to other aspects of their jobs. Not
all teachers will be interested in the budget process or want to devote time to
it. Those teachers and community members who participate in the councils may
need training in budget matters.
Members of the school community must beware of expectations that are too
high. According to the AASA/NAESP/NASSP task force, districts that have had the
most success with SBM have focused their expectations on two benefits:
increasing involvement in decision-making and making better decisions.
American Association of School Administrators,
National Association of Elementary School Principals, and National Association
of Secondary School Principals. SCHOOL-BASED MANAGEMENT: A STRATEGY FOR BETTER
LEARNING. Arlington, Virginia: AASA; Alexandria, Virginia: NAESP; and Reston,
Virginia: NASSP, 1988. 22 pages. ED number not yet assigned.
Beers, Donald E. "School Based Management." Paper presented at national
convention of National Association of Elementary School Principals, New Orleans,
April 12-16, 1984. 19 pages. ED 249 641.
Brown, Daniel J. A PRELIMINARY INQUIRY INTO SCHOOL-BASED MANAGEMENT. Report
to the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, March 1987. 39
pages. ED 284 331.
Clune, William H., and Paula A. White. SCHOOL-BASED MANAGEMENT: INSTITUTIONAL VARIATION, IMPLEMENTATION, AND ISSUES FOR FURTHER RESEARCH. New Brunswick, New Jersey: Center for Policy Research in
Education, September 1988. 42 pages.
Guthrie, James W. "School-Based Management: The Next Needed Education
Reform." PHI DELTA KAPPAN 68, 4 (December 1986): 305-9. EJ 345 283.
Honeyman, David S., and Rich Jensen. "School-Site Budgeting." SCHOOL BUSINESS
AFFAIRS 54, 2 (February 1988): 12-14. EJ 365 996.
Lindelow, John, and James Heynderickx. "School-Based Management." In SCHOOL
LEADERSHIP: HANDBOOK FOR EXCELLENCE, 2nd edition, edited by Stuart C. Smith and
Philip K. Piele. Eugene, Oregon: ERIC Clearinghouse on Educational Management,
University of Oregon, forthcoming.
Marburger, Carl L. ONE SCHOOL AT A TIME--SCHOOL-BASED MANAGEMENT: A PROCESS
FOR CHANGE. Columbia, Maryland: National Committee for Citizens in Education,
1985. 84 pages. ED 263 683.
Prasch, John C. "Reversing the Trend Toward Centralization." EDUCATIONAL
LEADERSHIP 42, 2 (October 1984): 27-29. EJ 308 271. Spear, JoAnn Palmer. "School
Site Budgeting/Management: The State of the Art." Paper presented at annual
meeting of American Educational Research Association, Montreal, April 11-15,
1983. 14 pages. ED 231 082.