School boards are enduring and vital components of public schools. Among the important functions performed by local boards of education are identification of the school district’s goals and purposes, and acquisition and allocation of the resources necessary to fulfill district priorities (Danzberger & Usdan, 1992; Knezevich, 1984). This qualitative exploratory case study (Patton, 2002) sought the perspective of persons who had previously served as school board members in rural high-needs school districts regarding their experiences and perceptions of their roles in those positions. These participants were representative of a cross section of gender, ethnicity and experience levels. Significant themes in the study revealed an overarching context of placing the needs of students first. Within that overarching context, four major themes with subthemes emerged. These included: 1) leadership data regarding racial tension as well as exemplary leadership, 2) perceptions of school board members’ roles including power play and power redefined, 3) advantages and disadvantages of school board membership, and, 4) communication and collaboration at the intersection of the other three major themes. Recommendations for future study include investigation of the “hollowing out” rural phenomenon (Howley & Howley, 2007) and whether it is applicable to South Texas. Additionally, emergent data regarding gender and its impact on school board members’ perceptions bears investigation. Finally, the impact of social media communication and its potential impact on school board members’ communication with regard to what is and what is not appropriate suggest a need for additional inquiry. Key Words: school boards, rural, qualitative research
January 25th, 2016
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