A CASE STUDY OF THE PERCEPTION OF SCHOOL PRINCIPALS REGARDING THE MICROPOLITICS OF CONSOLIDATING PUBLIC SCHOOLS
Slade, Darrin Andre
Mawhinney, Hanne B.
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ABSTRACT Title of Document: A CASE STUDY OF THE PERCEPTIONS OF SCHOOL PRINCIPALS REGARDING THE MICROPOLITICS OF CONSOLIDATING PUBLIC SCHOOLS Darrin Andre Slade, Doctor of Education, 2012 Directed By: Associate Professor Hanne Mawhinney Department of Teaching, Learning, Policy and Leadership The continued decline of many of America's urban centers has created a myriad of challenges for struggling inner city school systems. As the ills of society drive magnitudes of inner city residents into the suburbs many urban school districts must deal with the challenges of decreasing student enrollment and underused facilities. Many states allocate money to districts based on student enrollment. Declining enrollments often result in decreased fiscal allocations. The combination of declining enrollments and reduced funding often makes school closures necessary. In response to school closings many systems have re-configured the way they address the issue of underused facilities. In districts like the Mid-Atlantic school system leaders have chosen to consolidate schools into one shared facility to maximize resources. Such organizational change can be a catalyst for micropolitics. Issues related to micropolitics can have a dramatic effect on any organization especially one as complex as a school. With the ever-growing demands placed on school leaders particularly those related to high stakes accountability and school climate there is an urgent need to gain further insight into the principals' perception on how micropolitics impacts the total school. This study provided insight into the micropolitical perspectives of seven principals charged with leading consolidated buildings. The research design for this multi-case study was bounded by Bolman and Deal's (2003) political frame and Mangham and Morley's research on micropolitics. The study includes a single and cross case analysis of each principal's unique micropolitical perspectives. The findings from this study revealed that from the principal's perspective micropolitical issues occurred in every consolidated school. Data revealed similarities and differences in the manner in which principals perceived the conflicts and power struggles in their buildings and the causes of these disputes. In most cases the discord stemmed from enduring differences among students and staff members. The findings from this study have implications for policy makers, school leadership and future research. Additional research is needed to explore the effect of consolidation on student achievement. School leadership needs to use the data from this study to train principals to deal properly with the micropolitical issues they are sure to confront as school leaders. Policy makers must consider issues of zoning, the allocation of school resources and teacher hiring to ensure that future consolidation efforts are met with success.