STAFF PERCEPTIONS OF THE INFLUENTIALS, ISSUES,
AND THE DECISION MAKING PROCESS IN A SCHOOL SYSTEM IN FLORIDA
JEAN K. DOUGLASS
A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE COUNCIL
OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE
DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF EDUCATION
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
The author wishes to express her appreciation to all those who
have helped to make this study possible. In particular, the
author wishes to acknowledge the guidance given by the chairman
of her doctoral committee and director of the dissertation, Dr.
Charles Forgnone. The aid and counsel of the other members of the
doctoral committee, Dr. Ralph Kimbrough, Dr. Michael Nunnery, Dr.
Robert Algozzine, and Dr. John Nickens are deeply appreciated.
Particular thanks are extended to the staff of the Hillsborough
County Schools and the Hillsborough County School Board. Without
their cooperation, this study would have been impossible.
For their generous support and understanding, the author wishes
to express her gratitude to Louise, Boone, Smith, Margaret, and
George. Much appreciation is also extended to colleagues and personal
friends who have been genuine advocates of the author.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
The Problem . .
Statement of the Problem .
Delimitations and Limitations .
Definition of Terms . .
Justification of the Study .
Organization of the Study . .
REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE . .
Introduction . .
Research in Decision Making .
Methodology . .
SETTING . .
The Community and District .
Area . .
Population . .
Economic Life . .
Government of the District and County Seat ..
Concerns of the District .
The District School System .
Budget and Schools . .
Achievement Levels . .
District Office .
Administrative Organization of the District .
Formal Procedures for Decision Making .
Summary . .
PROCEDURES . .
Introduction . .
Overview . .
The Interview Sample .
Interviews With the Selected Informants .
Instrumentation . .
Interview Guide A .
Interview Guide B .
Initial Interviews . .
Follow-Up Interviews .
Data Analysis . .
Persons Identified as Influential
Decisions or Issues Identified as Significant
RESULTS . .
Identification of Influentials. .. .
Rankings of the Leaders .
General Characteristics of the Influentials .
Age . .
Residence . .
Years of Education .......
Degrees Held . .
Marital Status/Number of Children .
Identification of Formal Organizations and Informal
Relationships . .
Formal Organizations .
Membership in Professional Organizations .
Membership in Civic and Other Organizations .
Informal Relationships and Friendships .
Identification of Decisions and Issues .
PL 94-142--Education for the Handicapped .
School Closings ......
Smoking Areas for High School Students ...
SUMMARY, CONCLUSIONS, RECOMMENDATIONS .
Summary . .
The Influentials .
Formal and Informal Organizations .
Decisions and Issues .
Conclusions ...... .. 122
General Recommendations .................. 126
Recommendations for Further Research .......... 126
REFERENCES . ... ..... .129
APPENDIX A INTERVIEW GUIDE A 134
B INTERVIEW GUIDE B .. 137
BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH ... 144
Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate Council
of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of
of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Education
STAFF PERCEPTIONS OF THE INFLUENTIALS, ISSUES, AND
THE DECISION MAKING PROCESS IN A SCHOOL SYSTEM IN FLORIDA
Jean K. Douglass
Chairman: Charles Forgnone
Major Department: Special Education
The decision making process in an urban school district was
investigated using a combination of the decision analysis and
reputational methods. Two series of interviews were conducted with
administrative staff, school board members, and educational organiza-
tion members to ascertain the influentials in the district decision
making process, which formal and informal groups impinged upon the
decision making process in this urban school district, and what
important issues had confronted the district within the past three
Results of the study identified 13 persons as influential, a
very small percentage of the total administrative staff in this system.
Most of the influentials were men who had worked in this system for
over 15 years. Twenty-eight organizations were identified as having
impact on decision making in the district. The group interviewed
indicated certain organizations as having more importance than did
the influentials when they were questioned about relative significance
of the different organizations. Informal groups did not appear to
exert much influence outside the official organization, but did
within the bureaucratic hierarchy.
Thirty-eight issues were identified as having had impact on the
system during the past three years. Fourteen of those decisions
were indicated by three or more persons as being particularly signifi-
cant. The three reasons most often mentioned were investigated in
depth and disclosed influential involvement that varied dependent
upon the issue itself, scope of the decision, and involvement of the
school board and outside community groups.
Although some people and groups decry the existence of the
exercise of power or political influence in the educational system,
the results of research indicate that political pressure is present
in educational decision making. Politics is and has been inextricably
bound to education in the United States. Politics lies at the very
heart of policy making in public education and the exercise of power
is an inherent part of this total framework. Elected school board
members and, in some instances, elected superintendents establish
policy that is consistent with regulation and law established by
elected officials both at the state and federal levels. Examining
the school system and its social and political milieu in order to
ascertain how it can be influenced is, therefore, important in order
to support better educational programming for all citizens.
Nunnery and Kimbrough (1971) emphasized the necessity of school
leaders understanding and becoming involved with the power structure
of their communities. School persons need to understand the complexi-
ties of politics, know the methods of gaining power within the existing
structure, and utilize this knowledge with successful action in
influencing decisions concerning the system (Hughes, 1967; Longstreth,
1966). Both formal and informal subsystems and the communication
systems of the power structure must be dealt with knowledgeably and
consistently in order to have positive influence on educational
Although one may recognize the need for awareness of the political
and power structure of the community, discerning the political nature
of the bureaucracy in order to effectively work within it is essential.
Allocation of resources and appointment of persons to positions within
the bureaucracy are legitimate reasons for involvement with and under-
standing of the bureaucratic nature of the school system (Kimbrough &
Nunnery, 1976). Kimbrough and Nunnery also suggest that how people
use bureaucracy to realize personal goals should be investigated
rather than the common fallacy of looking only at what bureaucracy
does to people. The relationship of a person to others in the organ-
ization is the crucial factor to examine, not the absolute power of
the individual (Presthus, 1964). To be viable, such study must be
done within the framework of the total system of relationships within
that particular organization.
Much study has been made of the power structure of the community
(Dahl, 1961; Hunter, 1953; Johns & Kimbrough, 1968; Presthus, 1964).
Other researchers have concentrated on power structure within organiza-
tions and were concerned essentially with the right to make decisions
and to initiate actions (Bennis, Berkowitz, Affinito, & Malone, 1958;
Rosen, Levinger, & Lippitt, 1961; Smith & Tannenbaum, 1965; Thompson,
Occasionally, studies have been directed primarily toward
examining relationships within school groups (Collins, 1979; Fleming,
1963; larnacortne, 1959; lannaconne & Lutz, 1970; McCluskey, 1973).
No published materials have been found that reflect the decision
making process within the administrative power structure of specific
district level staff other than the superintendent and his or her
power within that structure.
Statement of the Problem
The problem in this study was to examine the staff perceptions of
the most influential persons in school decision making of a large
urban school district in Florida. Specific questions asked included:
1. Who were'perceived by school officials as the most influential
persons in school decision making in the school organization and what
were their characteristics?
2. What formal and informal organizations impacted upon the
decision making process?
3. What major issues were being considered by the school district
and what marjr decisions were made concerning those issues during the
past three years in this school district?
Delimitations and Limitations
The scope of this study was limited in several ways. Since self-
reports were-the primary method of collecting data utilized in this
research, other information impinging upon certain decisions were not
considered. Only three issues were investigated in depth which may
have restricted the overall view of influence within the district
and may single out certain individuals as influential when, in fact,
other issues not investigated may not have indicated the same degree
Staff in the district chose whether they would participate and
to what degree they would respond to questions. Since it is possible
that those persons who agreed to cooperate in the study differed
significantly from those who chose not to respond to some of the
investigated variables, the study may have been limited.
This study was delimited to responses from administrative staff
in the district school system, school board members, and professional
organization staff. It was further delimited by investigating staff
influence in only one district in the state.
Definition of Terms
Decision analysis technique. An interview method, originally
developed by Dahl (1961), of identifying leaders based on their
involvement in selected issues.
Formal organization. The planned structure of an organization
as described in organizational charts and formal documents.
Influence. The attributed power of an individual to affect
decision making on educational issues.
Influential. A person who is judged to exercise a relatively
high degree of influence in determining the course of action to be
taken for varied interests. In this study, an influential is that
person who exercises influence over educational decisions, especially
in the district-wide areas of concern.
Informal organization. The human aspect of an organization;
the unofficial relationships and norms of the organization.
Issue. A controversy among groups within an educational setting
concerning educational affairs and decisions.
Power structure. The structural distribution of political
influence among individuals and groups in the school district, organiza-
tion, or portion of the school district organization.
Power system. A group or groups of influentials who cooperate
or compete to exert influence in the decision making process.
Reputational technique. A technique originally developed by
Hunter (1953) of determining influentials based on nominations by
others who perceive the nominees as being influential.
Role. A function performed by someone in a particular situation,
process, or operation (Webster's, 1964, p. 1968).
Justification of the Study
Extensive study has been invested in describing the community
power structure. There is need for more analysis of the use of power
within the administrative staff of school organizations. This study
was conducted to describe how administrative staff perceived the
decision making process and the issues involved in that process.
This study should be of use to the practicing educator by provid-
ing a way of observing an educational organization and discerning both
the formal and informal processes that influence decision making within
the system. The knowledge of how a system operates and what measures
an administrator can utilize in order to influence that system gives
a person great power in making decisions that positively affect the
educational lives of students.
By observing and involving himself in the formal and informal
organizations that exist within all bureaucracies, the administrator
can develop methods of enhancing working conditions for all employees
and increase the effectiveness of the organization. Such involvements
will have positive impact upon the educational process and students
Organization of the Study
Chapter I is an introduction to the study. The purpose has been
described as have the statement of the problem, delimitations, and
limitations of the study. Definitions of the terms used in this
research have been included.
Chapter II contains a review of the literature that has direct
impact upon this research. Reviews of selected studies of decision
making as well as descriptions of methodology for studies of decision
making and discernment of power are included.
Chapter III describes the setting, both community and educational.
It specifies geography, population, economic life, and overall school
Chapter IV provides a description of the procedures used in com-
pleting this research. Data analysis procedures are delineated.
Chapter V describes the results of the research undertaken.
Designation of the influentials and formal and informal groups as
well as the decisions studied are explained and data are discussed.
Chapter VI summarizes and discusses the implications of the
research conducted. Recommendations for future investigation are
REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE
Relevant portions of literature dealing with research related to
decision making and methodology of power structure and decision making
analysis are presented in this chapter. ERIC and Dissertation
Abstracts searches were conducted covering the period 1975 to the
present in order to obtain all appropriate citations available.
Research in Decision Making
Andes, Johns, and Kimbrough (1971) conducted a massive series of
studies of organizational structures of 82 of the larger school dis-
tricts in the country. Seven were then selected for an indepth field
investigation in order to describe a decentralized type organization,
its patterns of staffing, and other characteristics. Other studies
that were associated with this research analyzed communication, issues,
decision making patterns, conflict within the organization, patterns
for dealing with students, and teacher militancy. Another goal was to
provide the basis for conceptualizing alternative structures for urban
school systems. The researchers found that there was great concern
about the complexity and size of urban school organizations and that
some of the stresses which reduce organizational effectiveness included
inadequate communication networks, inadequately defined processes of
participation in school governance, and extremes in political issues.
In these studies, some individuals or groups were shown to have
access to the influentials or to be heard but who had little real
participation in decision making. They did, however, through their
efforts, force some important modifications in the organizational
structure in most of the conflict analyzed by the research team.
Public groups were shown to have real power when they chose to use
it in a concerted manner.
The analysis of the data gathered also demonstrated the resistance
of the bureaucracies to change. The authors suggest the need to
develop organizations that are more flexible and responsive to the
community, parents, students, and influentials. Effective participa-
tion in the development of goals is of supreme importance in order to
reduce the intensity of goal conflict among the groups and individuals
involved in public education.
District school organizations have been studied. Peach (1979)
investigated the levels of participation of teachers, principals,
central office staff, superintendent, and school board in decision
making and the personal levels of satisfaction felt by each group.
He concluded that those persons who participated more in decision
making were more satisfied. He also found that the highest levels of
participation were found for the superintendent, central office, and
board, with principals and teachers last. Those staff persons with
the longest tenure were the most satisfied.
Diedrich (1978) studied the role preferences of selected Michigan
Board of Education members and superintendents. He found consensus
between both groups that superintendents and board of education are
the most influential in decision making. Both groups also felt the
teacher union should play a minor role in decision making. The board
members felt the superintendents had more power than superintendents
felt they personally had but superintendents felt the board members
should have less influence than they actually had.
Parsons (1978) studied the decision making process in the East
China, Michigan, schools and found that board members felt coordina-
tors at the district office should have a significant role in decision
making in curriculum matters. Principals felt they were more influen-
tial in the decision making process than did board members and
teachers felt principals were prime decision makers--a potential
source of conflict with which the principals must deal.
An investigation of the different perceptions held by school board
members, superintendents, and lay citizens of the decision making role
of the superintendent in the St. Louis area was conducted by Thouvenaut
(1979). He found that the superintendents perceived they had more
independent authority than community members who felt there was greater
board involvement. Older people felt the superintendent needed more
authority; more skilled persons perceived superintendents as being
more independent. Rural respondents perceived the superintendent as
more independent than those from larger urban areas. Those with less
educational background felt there should be less superintendent
independence. The board members indicated they were willing to give
superintendents more authority than constituents felt they should.
Mendoza (1978) researched the relationship of role and decision
making interactions occurring between school superintendents and
subordinates in 36 Georgia school districts. He found the super-
intendent and assistants viewed their interaction in the decision
making process differently. Each thought he had greater involvement
than the other. Those assistants with authoritarian superintendents
had fewer decision making opportunities. Centralized decision making
was acceptable if the decision was predictable. Permissive non-
threatening environments are best for educational managers.
Chrystal (1977) investigated the decision making process occurring
in an eight member central office team in the Boston area and concluded
that politics is what education is all about and the politics of
education is covert, conducted as a secret rite. More attention should
be given to informal decision making processes. He felt the charismatic
superintendent is a politician first and an educator second. Profes-
sional control over the budget of the school system is preferred over
public control. He also felt that federal and state-mandated programs
have led to the creation of a new patronage system.
Whipple (1979) studied the role of Michigan school board members
and superintendents in agenda construction and concluded that the
agenda development is important in superintendent/board relationships
and the board should especially be involved in the evaluation of
teachers, discipline, finance, and negotiations which are of utmost
importance to both the school board and to the superintendent.
The perceived effectiveness of interest groups in educational
decision-making was congruent with the opinions of Andes et al. (1971)
and others that community groups must be involved in decision making
and that school systems must become more pluralistic in order to
deal more effectively with the increasingly pluralistic societies
developing in urban centers. Improved public relations will be
one outcome of such modifications.
Schools themselves have been studied to some degree by contem-
porary researchers in attempting to identify the decision making
process operating within that institution. lannaccone (1959) found
that the informal organization exerted strong influence upon matters
concerning critical school policy issues and is used when satisfactory
decisions are not made through the formal organizational channels.
Fleming (1963) attempted to compare the decision making process
in two junior high schools and found that informal groups were actively
involved in exerting influence to change formal discipline policy.
He also identified certain members who were not formal status leaders
who could and did exert influence to guide certain school operations.
Cliques were active in both schools.
Verchota (1971) focused on how teachers perceived the power
structure and the power of the department chairman in selected schools
in Illinois. A major conclusion was that the nature of the district
administration had impact upon what the teachers' perceptions were of
the power structure and that the interpersonal relationships within
the school modified this pattern.
Friga (1970) analyzed interactions in three elementary schools
in "Northern City." He selected an inner city elementary school, a
transitional elementary school, and an outer city elementary school.
He found that the principal of the inner city school was more central
to the interaction system than either of the other two principals.
Although the principal was the central figure in the interaction
pattern, there was greater balance in interaction among the faculty
of the transitional school than was true of the other two schools.
The subsystems of the outer city school had greater interdependence
than did the subsystems in the inner city and transitional schools.
The interaction within the systems of the three schools studied tended
to focus upon the principals who were obviously in positions to
influence activities within the systems. Friga emphasized the need
to make concentrated effort to improve the principal's role in
planning and decision making. Greater teacher participation,
especially in the inner city schools where this situation poses the
most significant problem, should be developed.
Wiles (1970) developed a Decisional Practices Inventory with
which he demonstrated that principals and teachers have differing per-
ceptions of desirable participation for both groups in decision making.
Andes et al. (1971) felt that attention must be given to role differ-
entiation in order to realize more effective participation of
principals and teachers in both planning and decision making.
Ushijima (1978) investigated the patterns of influence and
decision making in junior high school attendance areas in California
and found discernible power structures in each attendance area. He
also found that a significant relationship existed between formal and
informal power structures and extended to the area office and district
office depending upon the issue raised.
A study by King (1979) analyzed similarities between superin-
tendent and elementary principals' respective roles in decision
making. Little relationship between their perceptions of each other's
roles was disclosed.
Perry (1979) researched the perceptions of principals as to the
increased involvement of the community in decision making. He found
principals were not willing to relinquish a great deal of authority in
decision making to community groups especially in the area of teaching
personnel. Their involvement should be in community relations and
not in internal workings of the school. Elementary principals were
more open than secondary principals to community involvement.
A description of decision making patterns of nine school principals
was completed by Cross (1980). His observations of these principals
in their natural setting as well as in given structured situations
revealed that most principals dealt with problems developing in their
attendance area. He also found that principals made decisions very
rapidly when confronted with problem situations. This, in some
cases, led to poor decisions. The principals did not go through
accepted steps in problem solving when confronted with more than 100
problems each day. Cross also found that the principals depended upon
themselves rather than upon data for the decisions they made. They
were strongly influenced by subordinates, little by superordinates.
Community colleges have also been studied in order to discern how
the decision making process operates. Influentials were also identified.
Melton (1973) examined the decision making process in a selected
collegially organized community college in Florida. He found that
wide sharing of leadership existed among faculty members and over
62 percent of the leaders were not key administrators as designated
on the organizational chart. Informal groups were important elements
through which decisions were made in the organization as were the
formal organizations or groups.
Another case study of a community college in California found that
local external forces dominated the decision making process in this
area. Power and influence flowed downward and few options were left
by the time decisions reached the faculty level. Student involvement
in decision change was very small. One dean was found to be signifi-
cantly influential to the point that, if he approved a program
regardless of which department it impacted upon, it would be accepted.
He was considered the most powerful person on the entire campus
Zoglin (1980) found that in California community colleges
decision making in curriculum was defined by diverse groups including
the community. The community is extremely important in successfully
achieving goals set for the organization and it must be included in
giving input for decisions.
Weiner (1979) studied a suburban community outside Boston in
order to determine whether or not an urban political decision making
model would be effective in the examination of suburban educational
decisions. A decision making model developed by Bolen and Nattall
was used to investigate three educational decisions in a suburban
community. The model was used to assess how individuals' roles and
skills affected their importance to the decision making process.
Several hypotheses were examined to test how the perceptions of key
decision makers influenced the decision making process. It was con-
cluded that individuals who played one or more of the eight process
roles identified were more important than individuals who did not.
No significant relationship existed between an individual's importance
and the individual's skill or his/her position on the issue.
Collins (1979) used the University of Florida format to investi-
gate the decision process in a rural county in Mississippi. He found
there was a discernible power structure in this district made up of
blacks and whites with a significant number of politicians indicated
as influential. He also found that influence in making decisions was
primarily used in an informal setting and that the educators' civic
beliefs were more liberal than those of the influentials in both
Research results in the arena of decision making in school
organizations indicate that those persons higher on the administrative
ladder generally are considered both by themselves and by others as
having more influence and a greater sense of satisfaction in their
positions than do those employees on lower levels. Results from most
studies indicated the need for more involvement from individuals and
groups within the organization in order to develop more positive
feelings about the organization as well as about the person's own role
within the group.
Informal groups and associations were found to be significant in
many of the studies cited. The recognition of an involvement with
these groups in the decision making process dids the administrator in
enhancing the overall effectiveness of his or her organization.
The perception of another influential's role is not necessarily
congruent with that person's perception of his/her own role. This
can become the basis of a significant problem causing situation
within the organization unless role definition occurs for all persons
involved in the process. Delineation of role is essential both for
individuals within the organization as well as for the community at
The leadership style of the influentials within the system has
great impact upon the degree of decision making activity in which sub-
ordinates may engage. The more dictatorial the leader, the less
involved in decision making those lower level employees may be.
This was found to be true both within district level organizations as
well as within schools and community colleges.
The degree to which a school or school organization is accepted
and supported by the community is dependent, in large part, upon the
willingness of the administrator to accept input from the community
and its subgroups. This is equally true for district level organiza-
tions. Active involvement both at the district and school level is
seen as desirable although many administrators may actively resist
People have influence in a power structure by virtue of their
control over and effective use of certain resources (Kimbrough &
Nunnery, 1976). In order to direct and control these resources,
leaders must be in a position to regulate both tangible and intangible
"things" people value. This does not necessitate a formal position
of power. In fact, those holding positions viewed by the lay person
as powerful may be mere figureheads with no real influence within
the greater community.
Prior to the 1950s, persons of power were usually indicated by
the position or office they held in a formal organization. It soon
became apparent that many miscalculations were made using this method
and the influence of the informal group was rarely considered.
The formal study of the community power structure is generally
viewed as having been initiated by Hunter (1953) in Atlanta. He is
credited with developing and employing the reputational model whereby
selected community leaders were asked to nominate those persons they
considered to be the most important influential persons in the
community. A panel of judges was then asked to select the most
prominent persons from this list of influential persons. Indepth
interviews were conducted with each of these persons in an attempt to
discover the dynamics of the power structure within the community or
Dahl (1961) developed the decision analysis technique in order
to demonstrate that the unveiling of a community power structure is
more effectively accomplished by analyzing leader involvement in issues.
New Haven, Connecticut, was the original site for utilization of this
method. Investigators using this method selected decision areas for
indepth study. Persons affiliated with these decision areas were then
interviewed and asked to indicate the most significant decisions made
in their field and those persons involved in the decision making process.
Those individuals mentioned most often were interviewed in order to
ascertain their part as well as their perceptions of the actions of
others in decisions. Data collected were substantiated by examination
of public records and other documentary evidence relating to those
particular decisions. A distinction was made between the initiation
and implementation phases of decision making for the initiator was
seen as wielding more power than the implementer.
Presthus (1964) combined elements of both the reputational and
decision making techniques and observed that the reputational technique
tended to identify those persons who operated "behind the scenes" while
the decision making method tended to identify the more overtly active
persons involved in the decision making process. There was, however,
sizeable overlap in lists produced by both methods. Presthus felt that
the two methods "were better conceived as mutually supportive means of
ascertaining power" (1964, p. 59) and would provide useful checks
against the inadequacies of each other.
The combining of both reputational and decision making elements has
been utilized by a number of investigators (Gourley, 1963; Kimbrough,
1975; Shaffer, 1967; Wellman, 1964). They contend the combination of
methods was the most effective procedure for providing insight into
the power structure of communities or organizations.
The University of Florida approach (Kimbrough, 1975) follows
some principles of both the decision analysis and reputational techniques
but also differs in some respects. This technique initially identifies
the most important interest sectors of the community which may vary
according to community background, e.g., economic, political.
Geographic spread is assured by interviews and decisions, issues
and problems studied; influential persons within the area; and
significant organizations are identified. Subsequent interviews are
then constructed from the data obtained. Questions appropriate to
initially discovering leadership dynamics and decision making processes
are the foci for these investigations (Andes et al., 1971; Collins,
1979; Craft, 1977; Elmer, 1976; Frasher, 1970; Friga, 1970; Johns &
Kimbrough, 1968; Trufant, 1970; Zenke, 1970).
Extensive research in power and decision making has been conducted
since the landmark work in this area was completed by Hunter in 1973.
A move has been observed from the simple designation of the position
holder as influential within a community or organization to a much
more sophisticated means of discovering who actually does possess and
use influence in decision making.
Most current research involves a combination of techniques such
as the reputational and decision analysis methods or modifications of
those techniques in order to observe the attainment and use of power
by individuals and groups within specific systems. Real decisions are
explored in order to observe the actual use of power and influence in
actual decisions by persons perceived as influential in order to
ascertain their role in determining policy or in resolving issues.
Research methodology such as that proposed by Kimbrough and others has
aided in the development of a more refined and conclusive method of
identifying influentials within organizations and communities.
By enabling the group member to better understand the inner
workings of his or her organization, that person is thereby provided
a method by which positive solutions to problems can be addressed
more efficiently and effectively. A smoother operation within that
organization should be the ultimate goal of such investigations.
The refinement of these techniques is continuing. More use is
being made of them within specific organizations as well as within
communities and larger regions. Positive changes in organizational
effectiveness should result.
A review of the literature dealing with field studies in decision
making has been presented. Rationale for and methods of discerning the
power structure and decision making in communities and organizations
have been described delineating the evolving nature of these
This chapter describes the administrative organization of an
urban school district in Florida. The county is described in terms
of the population, area economic life, city and county government,
and structure of the district school system.
The Community and District
This county serves a geographic area of 1,037.8 square miles
of land and 24.2 square miles of inland water area, fifth in total
area of all districts in Florida. The corporate limits of the county
seat cover 84.4 square miles (Chamber of Commerce, 1979).
The population of this county is currently estimated at 652,000
by the Bureau of Business and Economic Research at the University
of Florida (Chamber of Commerce, 1979). Projections indicate that
from 1978 to 1985, this county will have over a 15 percent increase
in population. The county has grown by 161,735 people each year from
1972 to 1980, or a 4.1 percent increase. Estimates predict a popula-
tion of 750,000 by 1985. The county seat with a current population
of 288,878 is projected at 319,200 by 1985, a decrease from 44
percent of the total population to 42.5 percent, an indication
of the movement to the county (Chamber of Commerce, 1979).
The age distribution of the population in the county and the
county seat do not differ appreciably (see Table 1). The median
age in the county seat is 30.8 years and in the county 28.5 years
(Chamber of Commerce, 1979). Seventeen and 15 percent of the
existing population are60 and over in the county seat and the county,
respectively. There is an indication that a larger percentage of
the school-age population is moving to the more suburban and rural
portions of the county, thus exerting pressure to fund more building
construction in those areas and to find more uses for the unused-
facilities in the inner city.
Age Range County Seat County
Population Percent Population Percent
0-19 years 95,924 35 181,409 37
20-39 years 68,872 25 128,326 26
40-59 years 65,022 24 108,092 22
60+ years 46,949 17 72,488 15
TOTAL 276,767 100 490,315 100
MEDIAN AGE 30.8 years 28.5 years
A broad-based economy with many industrial organizations is
represented; and, also, a large percentage of the adult working
population are found in service, government, and transportation
job areas (see Table 2) (Chamber of Commerce, 1979). Tourism is
a major venture in the county and employees in the various service
areas make up a large part of the total working force in the
Job Area Number of Employees Percent of Total
Manufacturing 33,000 14.1
Contract Construction 15,400 6.6
Transportation, Communication, 16,600 7.1
Trade 64,200 27.5
Finance, Insurance, 15,700 6.8
Service 44,400 19.0
Government 44,000 18.9
TOTAL 233,300 100.0
From its earliest days, farming has been of utmost importance
to the county. Even today, the county is one of the state's most
diversified agricultural communities and ranks fourth in agricultural
production in the United States. Over $108,000,000 worth of farm
goods are produced annually and the county is noted for its citrus,
strawberries, beef cattle, ornamental horticulture, dairy farms, egg
production, and tropical fish production.
This area has shown significant growth in all areas of economic
life. Business leaders of this area predict continuing growth in the
county as well as in the chief city. All indicators point to a
continuing increase in growth in all areas of the district with even
more significant increases in the suburban and rural areas of the
Government of the District and County Seat
The county is governed by a Board of County Commissioners. The
*Board consists of one commissioner from each of five districts within
the county elected county-wide for a term of four years. The Board
meets weekly to conduct county business.
The major city in the county, which is also the county seat,
operates with a mayor-council form of government. The mayor is chief
administrator and is elected for a term of four years. The seven
city councilpersons form the legislative branch of city government and
are also elected for four year terms.
Concerns of the District
An analysis of major areas of significance in the district con-
ducted every three years by the news media in the area identified 10
areas of major concern by the public (WFLA News, 1979):
1. transportation facilities,
2. state of the economy,
3. health and welfare of all citizens,
4. quality of education,
5. growth patterns of the district,
6. women and minority rights and progress,
7. crime and its curtailment,
8. energy and environment,
9. housing--public and availability of housing for middle
income citizens, and
10. dissatisfaction with government operations and spending.
Education was mentioned as a part of several of the concerns listed
above. Transportation and its relationship to available energy were
often mentioned as were growth patterns of the county and the resultant
pressure to close schools. The quality of education, upgrading of
courses, back to basics and testing results were of paramount interest
to the lay public. Much concern was expressed about the ability of
the economy to support this endeavor.
Much dissatisfaction was expressed about all levels of government
with the greatest degree of negative feeling concerning the federal
and state levels of bureaucracy--overspending, bureaucratic waste and
political appointment of agency heads who have no real ability in
their area of responsibilities. Local and district bureaucracy were
also mentioned as having negative aspects but were not seen as nega-
tively as other governmental levels.
A study (Tampa Tribune, 1980) was conducted with responses
requested from 502 parents, teachers, and students in the school
district. Responses were received by 261 parents, 130 students, and
111 teachers who were contacted by telephone and asked questions
concerning their perceptions of the quality of education. Special
portions of the educational program were addressed. Results
1. Parents and teachers said they are willing to pay higher
taxes to improve the schools in the county.
2. The majority of all three groups felt the public school
education deserved a grade of B.
3. Most of the teachers said the present day education is better
than the one they received; nearly half of the parents felt their
children were receiving an inferior education in comparison to that
4. Sixty percent of the teachers and only 48 percent of the
parents stated that the schools were adequately encouraging parents
to become involved in their child's school.
5. More than half of the students felt that drugs and absenteeism
were problem issues. Less than half of the parents and teachers felt
they were major problems. Busing was not considered a significant
problem by a major portion of the respondents. Crime and vandalism
are not considered problem areas by any of the group majorities.
6. High marks were given the schools by all three groups to
programs in the areas of math, English, art/music, reading, discipline,
and student counseling. However, more parents and students gave C
grades than did the teachers.
7. A large number of parents and students were unaware of the
programs in special education and bilingual education.
8. The majority of parents and teachers felt creationism should
be taught and prayer allowed.
The District School System
The following information was derived from material published by
the school board for use with community and school leaders (Hillsborough
County School Board, 1980). The school system is ranked as the 14th
largest school system in the United States and is the third largest
in Florida. In September, 1979, there were 126 schools in operation
serving 113,947 students in public school programs. Of this population,
9,812 students are exceptional students served in special programs
and 1,601 are students in early childhood or Head Start Centers.
Permanent instructional staff number 6,746 while another 5,130 persons
serve as permanent non-instructional staff. Another 3,900 staff
members are classified as temporary and substitutes. So, there is a
total of 15,776 staff members,
Student enrollment declined somewhat between 1976 and 1978 with an
approximate decrease of 300 students each year. By the beginning of
the 1979-80 school year, however, there was an increase of 800
students thus showing a net increase of 118 students since 1976.
Budget and Schools
There are 126 schools currently operating in the district, 88
elementary, 25 junior high, 1 middle school, 11 senior high, and one
exceptional student school. This is a reduction of three schools
from those operating in 1978-79, providing part of the basis for
one of the major issues facing this system.
The budget for this school district is funded through federal,
state, and local sources. The anticipated budget of $252,361,382 for
1979-80 was supported by the following: federal, 7.3 percent;
state, 57.9 percent; and local district and fund balance, 34.8 per-
cent. It has risen from a total budget of $230,643 in 1978-79,
an increase of 9.4 percent. The budget for 1979-80 included a 7
percent raise in salaries for both administrative/supervisory and
non-instructional staff, as well as a 7 percent increase in instruc-
An analysis of results of the state student assessment given to
students in grades three, five, eight, and 11 on basic skills and
functional literacy indicates that students in the county perform at
approximately the same level as other students in Florida. A compari-
son of the results of the Comprehensive Test of Basic Skills (CTBS)
which is given to all students in kindergarten through tenth grade
indicates that these students achieve at or above the national
average for all grades. Students in the county scored higher on the
Scholastic Aptitude Test, administered to college-bound seniors
annually, than the national average, Florida average, or the
Southeastern United States average which indicated an increase in
scores from previous years.
A new multi-million dollar district office building was completed
during the 1978-79 school year through combining local and federal
monies. It was officially dedicated in July, 1979. This construc-
tion enabled the top levels of the school hierarchy to be grouped
at one site rather than spread about the district. The Superintendent's
Office was officially moved from the County Courthouse and is located
on the first floor of the new building. All assistant superintendents'
offices are located on the second and third floors of the building.
Administrative Organization of the District
The school district may be best described as a unified city-county
school system (Andes et al., 1971). It is a highly centralized
bureaucracy governed by an elected school board and appointed super-
intendent. A school board publication outlines the respective job
responsibilities (Hillsborough County School Board, 1978).
School board. The district school board is composed of seven
board members who are-elected to four-year terms by registered voters.
Five board members are elected from geographic areas and must reside
in that area in order to run for office. Two additional board members
are elected as county-at-large members. All seven board members are
elected by a county wide ballot. The school board is considered a
policy making group for the school system. They can take no formal
action as individuals and must act within the requirements of state
law and regulation (Chapter 230, Florida Statutes). The school board
meets every other Tuesday. One session is considered a work session
and the other a regular meeting. Special meetings are called at
the recommendation of the superintendent.
District office staff. The size of the district school office
in this school district is so large that it is almost impossible for
any one person to have an indepth knowledge of all the processes
involved within the school system and thus to have much impact on
overall decisions made within the district. The communication between
groups within the district organization is hampered somewhat because
of its very magnitude and the specialization of personnel in each of
the divisions. This situation has been aided somewhat by the enhanced
physical closeness that was achieved by the move to the centrally
located building for the upper echelon of district staff during the
past year. The county also attempted to meet the communication needs
of its organization by the development of the Superintendent's
Educational Management Group in the Spring of 1977. This organiza-
tion will be discussed in more detail in a latter portion of this
Attorney and auditor. The district school board has employed both
an attorney and an internal auditor and assistant who report to them
directly and are not under the superintendent's administrative control.
The internal auditor and his assistant are charged with the responsi-
bility of notifying the school board of any discrepancies that might
exist in the financial records of the district and attend all school
board meetings. The internal auditor's office is located within the
District Office Building on the first floor.
The attorney also attends all school board meetings and responds
to requests by members of the school board for legal opinions con-
cerning certain deliberations or actions being considered by the
Superintendent's office. The superintendent of the county is
appointed by the seven member school board for a period of time and
salary established by that body (Florida Statute 230.321). The
superintendent is the executive office of the school district and,
with the school board, directs and controls all public schools within
the district (Florida Statute 230.35). The superintendent is
responsible for assisting in the organization of the school board,
attending all regular school board meetings, and calling special
meetings when necessary. He/she is also responsible for keeping
minutes of all official board actions and proceedings. He/she acts
as custodian for all school property; prepares long-term and annual
plans for the school program; establishes, organizes, and operates
schools, classes, and services in order to provide adequate educational
opportunities for all children; directs the work of personnel; and
attends to the welfare of all children within the district. The
superintendent is responsible for recommending adequate transportation
and school plant needs; maintaining financial records and budget;
enforcing laws and regulations; cooperating with the school board;
informing the general public of educational programs, needs, and
objectives of the public education program within the district (Florida
Directly responsible to the superintendent and based within the
superintendent's office are the administrative assistant and public
information officer. The administrative assistant, required to hold
a graduate degree in administration and supervision, is primarily
responsible for conducting all collective bargaining sessions for the
school board as well as conducting hearings and to answer employee
grievances filed with the superintendent. This staff member is
responsible for acting as system liaison with the district wide
Citizen Bi-Racial Committee which was ordered by the U.S. District
Court of Appeals in June, 1971. He/she is also responsible for
acting as liaison for the District Parent Teacher Association Joint
Advisory Committee and School Volunteers. The administrative
assistant coordinates the superintendent's budget preparation as
The public information officer is required to hold a current
teaching certificate and to have had successful experience in dealing
with the public information field, especially with the media. The
public information officer has the prime responsibility of acting
as a liaison with the public, schools and the school board, and keeping
all informed of events taking place within the school system that
might impact upon any one of them. This person is also responsible
for developing and distributing newsletters and other communicative
vehicles to staff, school board members, and the public. A Fact
Sheet is prepared prior to each school board meeting informing all who
are interested of the major topics to be considered by that body at
its next meeting. A School Board Digest is made available the day
after each school board meeting indicating the major decisions that
were made by that group. The person currently holding this office
developed a history of the earliest district schools in observation
of the Bicentennial Year, annually develops materials to be used
during the American Education Week and is always on call to provide
whatever information may be requested from any public or private
source. He/she is probably best seen and described by other
members of the school district as a "talented back-up person who
has all the right answers at the right time" and can organize
information in order for all groups to understand and have confidence
in what is occurringwithin the school system.
Assistant superintendents. The superintendent of the county has
six assistant superintendents who work directly under his/her
administrative control in the areas of business and research,
personnel, supportive services, administration and operations,
instruction and vocational-technical and adult education. Job
descriptions are published for each of the division heads as well
as for those persons who hold administrative, supervisory or instruc-
tional roles under their immediate administrative direction. All
have their offices in the District Office Building and employ vastly
different numbers of personnel (Table 3). Salaries for assistant
superintendent are approximately 17 percent higher than those for
general or general area directors.
All assistant superintendent positions are currently held by men
who have master's degrees and have served for more than 20 years in
some capacity in the school system. The average years in education
for the six persons are 29.6 with the Assistant Superintendent for
Vocational Education having the fewest--21 years. All had previous
experience in the school district prior to becoming an assistant
Employess in District Offices, Sites Directly Administered by
Assistant Superintendents and Staff, 1979-80
Division No. of No. of Secretar., No. of Admin. Offices or Diff. Sites,
District Staff Technical, Aide, Job Descrip. Major Subdivis. Offices,
Laborers; % of Total Locations
The Assistant Superintendent for Administration has 97 persons
who work in his office. Of these, 50 hold secretarial, clerk or
aide positions for a total of 51 percent of his total staff. Thirty-
one administrative job descriptions are given for staff in this
area indicating a wide diversity of tasks addressed, and there are
18 major functions or areas of expertise described. These staff are
located at 22 different sites within the district. Although this
division is next to last in total number of district staff members
employed by a given division, the job responsibilities of this
particular individual touch a significant number of other persons
not indicated in these statistics.
This assistant superintendent is given the responsibility of
coordinating and evaluating the activities of all principals in the
district, "enhancing the effective performance" of each of the other
assistant superintendents and determining and recommending the number
and type of teachers to be employed each year. He also is responsible
for coordinating all policy making; reviewing and reorganizing staff
duties and responsibilities, planning building priorities, disseminat-
ing information from all departments via a weekly newsletter, and
preparing the agenda and presiding over the District Principals'
Meeting. The assistant superintendent has direct administrative
control over all school plant planning and construction, grounds and
maintenance, school food services, pupil administrative and Affirmative
Action planning. This individual was also given the responsibility
of presiding over the weekly meetings of the Superintendent's
Educational Management Team when it was first initiated until, at the
end of the first year, members asked that the superintendent chair
The Assistant Superintendent for Business and Research has
133 employees assigned to his office at the district level.
Ninety-one of these hold clerical or secretarial positions for a
total of 68 percent of the total work force in that division.
Eighteen administrative job descriptions in 21 offices found at only
three sites are described. This assistant superintendent is charged
with the responsibility of supervising the departments of finance,
data processing, school transportation, payroll, purchasing, and
central warehouse. He is also directly responsible for developing
recommendations for a viable research program as well as supporting
the management information system for the entire district. He is
charged to work with all other assistant superintendents in assisting
them to carry out their functions.
The Assistant Superintendent for Instruction has the largest
number of district staff assigned to his division. Of the 204 district
staff members, 112 are secretarial, clerical or custodial, for 55
percent of the total staff. Sixty-five administrative job descriptions
are included for this division, more than twice as many as any other
division except the vocational division. Nineteen major offices at
ten different sites are described and include athletics, educational
planning, media, central libraries and printing, textbooks, elementary
education, education for exceptional students, secondary education,
ROTC, staff development, and student services. Input to each school
in the district is provided by personnel in each of the areas described
The Assistant Superintendent for Personnel has the smallest
district staff in the county. Of the 68 staff members, 40 are
identified as clerical or secretarial or 50 percent of the total
staff. Four major areas (personnel placement, instructional and
non-instructional; security, and risk management and safety) are
described at three different sites with 13 administrative jobs
outlines. This assistant superintendent is given responsibility for
recruitment, assignment, transfer, coordination of the substitute
program, maintenance of certification and personnel records for all
staff, retirement and employee insurance as well as development of
safety provisions for the entire district. Thirteen administrative
jobs are described in three different sites.
The Assistant Superintendent for Support Services employs 140
staff at the district level. Fifty-three, or 38 percent of the staff,
are clerical or secretarial staff. This division has 23 major units,
the largest of all the divisions in the district. Offices are
located at 16 different sites and include programs located in private
and parochial schools in the district. All federal programs are
administered through this office as well as the Office of Human
Relations for the district.
The Assistant Superintendent for Vocational, Technical and Adult
Education employs the second largest number of district staff with
the smallest percentage of secretarial or clerical staff (35 percent).
This assistant superintendent has administrative responsibility over
eight programs on 43 sites. These sites include all adult education
and community schools centers as well as programs for juvenile
offenders, vocational evaluation, Comprehensive Employment and
Training Program (CETA), occupational specialists, and vocational
supervisors for each of the vocational areas (see Table 4).
General director and directors. Each of the six major divisions
is- further subdivided into specific programs headed by either a
general director or director. Persons filling either of these two
job classifications report directly to the assistant superintendent
of that division. General directors and directors are both 12 month
employees but salaries are approximately 7.6 percent higher for
general directors. General area directors are also classified as
general directors for salary purposes.
The designation of a particular person as a general director
rather than director appears to be a function both of the individual
who held the position at the time it was so designated and the desire
to have an intermediate step between the director and assistant
superintendent relative to salary. Longevity in a given job or within
the district administrative system is not rewarded directly by an
increase in salary. Only rank is so recognized with approximately
$1.73 per day for each increase in rank. Approximately 50 percent
of all persons designated as general directors or directors have
attained or are working on an advanced degree beyond the master's
Directors or general directors are given the responsibility of
total coordination of their particular programs. They must coordinate
all services and activities within their designated areas and serve
as a member of their Division Team, both at meetings and at the
request of their assistant superintendent.
Administrative Staff Found Within Divisions
General Area General Asst. Principals,
Division Directors Directors Directors Directors Superv. Specialists, TOTAL
Operations 4 1 6 0 10 26 47
Business & Research 0 0 3 2 15 22 42
Instruction 0 3 4 0 36 49 92
Personnel 0 0 1 0 7 20 28
Support Services 0 0 2 0 19 66 87
& Adult 0 1 4 0 25 64 94
TOTAL 4 5 20 2 112 247 390
General area directors. The county is subdivided into four
geographical areas, each supervised by a general area director who
is under the direct administrative control of the Assistant
Superintendent of Administration and Operations. These four
persons are primarily responsible for maintaining a direct liaison
with schools in a given area and the District Office. Area directors
approve use of school facilities, preside over Area Principals'
Meetings, visit school centers, and make recommendations in all
areas, investigate complaints against schools and personnel, visit
classes and make recommendations to instructional supervisors. In
addition, this individual aids in the development of transportation
schedules, school schedules, budgets, rezoning recommendations,
school attendance areas, and evaluates principals of schools. Offices
for the directors are maintained both in the areas in which they work
as well as in the District Office Building immediately adjacent to
the Administration and Operations Section.
Salaries for the general area directors are the same as the
general directors--approximately 17 percent less than the assistant
Principals. All principals in this county are directly responsible
to the Assistant Superintendent for Administration and Operations.
Each is required to hold a valid Rank II certificate including
administration and supervision. Elementary principals must be
certified in elementary administration and supervision and high school
principals in secondary administration and supervision. All principals
must have three years of full-time successful experience as a teacher.
The principal is considered the administrative and supervisory head
of the school and is responsible for administering the policies of
the school board as directed by the superintendent and administrative
staff. The principal has the major responsibility of selecting,
with the assistance of the Assistant Superintendent of Personnel,
all teachers and to make recommendation for employment to the super-
intendent. The principal has the responsibility for staff leadership
in the development of an effective instructional program. He or she
is the manager of the financial affairs of the school and supervisor
of the school plant.
Assistant principal for curriculum. The assistant principal for
curriculum must hold a Rank II or higher certificate with administra-
tion and supervision indicated. This person must also have completed
three years of full-time successful experience as a teacher or
administrator. The responsibilities of this position include super-
vising and coordinating the total program of studies for the school;
completing special reports for the district, state, or Southern
Association; supervising the securing of substitutes; maintaining
the school room use chart and organizational chart for the teaching
staff; supervising and approving requests for field trips; meeting
with advisory groups; and development a faculty handbook. Addition-
ally, this individual is responsible for assisting in the public
relations arena with the principal; assisting in the evaluation of
teachers; assisting the deans with unique disciplinary problems;
assisting with the interviewing and recommending of new staff; and
other duties the principal may assign.
Assistant principal for administration. This assistant
principal must hold a Rank II or higher certificate with administra-
tion and supervision included and have completed three years of
successful teaching or administrative experience. This principal
has the primary responsibility of supervising and coordinating the
total school athletic program, issuing the daily bulletins, super-
vising the maintenance of the school plant, assisting in the public
relations activities, assisting in the evaluation of teachers and
other staff; assisting in developing policies, assisting the deans
with unique disciplinary problems, assisting in interviewing and
recommending the employment of new staff, and other special duties
assigned by the principal.
Assistant principal for management. The assistant principal for
management is also required to hold a Rank II certificate with both
supervision and administration listed. Three years of full-time
successful work in the classroom or as an administrator are also
required. This administrator is responsible for supervising and
coordinating the Dean's Office and all reports from it; supervising
and coordinating all student activities, clubs, etc. other than the
athletic activities; supervising and maintaining the school activities
calendar; coordinating committees and reports such as FTE, textbooks,
student lockers; personnel injuries; student handbook; assisting in
the public relations activities; interviewing new staff; and assuming
other special duties as requested by the principal.
Dean. The dean is a part of the administrative team within each
school and must hold a Rank II or higher certificate covering
administration. Supervision must be added to the certificate within
a given period of time. The dean is directly responsible to the
principal and is acting principal during the absence of the principal
and the assistant principals. He/she assists in the preparation of
the master schedule and is responsible for student registration and
scheduling, pupil accounting, and truancy. He/she has the prime
responsibility for establishing programs to develop a high level of
self-discipline among students and is responsible for procuring
school and community personnel services to aid students who are
exhibiting significant problems behaviorally. This person supervises
the student clinic and oversees the development of programs.
Formal Procedures for Decision-Making
The county utilizes six basic components in the district-wide
decision making process. These components include the Assistant
Superintendents' Meetings, the Superintendent's Educational Management
Group, Division Meetings, Program Staff Meetings, Area Staff Meetings,
and Principals Meetings.
Assistant superintendents' meeting. The assistant superintendents
serve as an advisory group for the superintendent of schools. This
group meets weekly and discusses all items of major importance that
may be developing in each respective division. This gives each of
the assistant superintendents an opportunity to express the degree
of involvement of their division in any given issue resolution and to
establish major policy statements for future consideration by the
school board and by respective groups within the educational system.
No official minutes are maintained for this exclusive group and only
assistant superintendents, the superintendent, and administrative
assistant are regular members. This group is considered by most
persons interviewed as the major policy determining group in the
entire system and was referred to as "the inner sanctum."
Superintendent's Educational Management Group. This group,
usually referred to as SEMG, was established in March, 1977, for the
primary purpose of improving communication among members of the
administrative staff within the district and serving as an advisory
group for the superintendent. Stated objectives include:
1. To gain input into administrative decision making from repre-
sentatives of the principals, assistant principals, deans, super-
visors and director's groups.
2. To disseminate information about administrative decisions
to all members of the group.
3. To establish greater credibility for administrative decisions
among the members of the various groups.
4. To establish a total management team approach to the decision
5. To make recommendations to the superintendent for his con-
sideration, and to take the recommendations he feels are valid to
the school board.
6. To develop a forum where common problems may be aired.
7. To arrive at management salary and fringe benefit considera-
tions without adversary bargaining.
8. To develop appreciation for all divisions of the school
system (budgets, curriculum, facilities, administration, supervision,
etc.) and understand the interrelationships.
Thirty-four members were originally appointed: all the
assistant superintendents, all general directors, all area
directors, two directors, two supervisors, four elementary
principals, two junior high principals, two senior high principals,
two assistant principals, one community school administrator, and
two deans. The Assistant Superintendent for Administration was
originally designated by the superintendent as chairman of this
group although this was changed after the first evaluation in May,
1978, and the superintendent now presides.
Major areas of discussion include items on the agenda of the
school board, significant items of concern, and items of general
interest. Consensus is usually obtained on major items although
formal voting does not occur. Minutes are kept of all meetings.
At its inception, a survey was conducted concerning those issues
this organization should investigate indepth. Interestingly, the
PL-94-142 issue in 1977, before actual implementation was begun, was
listed as the 39th concern by SMEG. After the problems of implementa-
tion were felt, it became the most significant for many persons.
Closing of schools was listed in eighth position and the smoking
issue, not reactivated at the time of the poll, was not indicated
among the top 43 concerns. After this group met for one year, an
evaluation was conducted and weaknesses were identified and possible
Division directors' meetings. Each assistant superintendent is
responsible for having meetings with general directors and directors
at least monthly. Such meetings occur differently for different
divisions. The major purpose of this group is to hear problems,
discuss resolution, discuss information shared at the SEMG meeting
and to discuss possible ramifications of decisions of that body
and the school board. Significant items are then directed to the
assistant superintendent's group or to the Superintendent's
Educational Management Group for further discussion and/or resolution.
The perception of effectiveness of these groups varies widely from
division to division although these groups are the most potentially
influential for establishing specific procedures necessary for
implementing or continuing any activity for that particular division.
Most recommendations from this group are usually accepted unless
there is significant overlap into other divisions' arenas or if there
is public or informal group involvement and interest counter to the
General director/director's meetings. Each general director or
director directly responsible administratively to an assistant
superintendent is charged with the responsibility of meeting with
top staff in his/her program and seeing that all facets of the
program run smoothly. These meetings occur at the discretion of the
director of that particular program. Recommendations from these
groups are then shared with the assistant superintendent or with the
general directors/directors of that division. These groups are per-
ceived to be very influential in reaching resolution on issues specific
to them but have little major policy making importance, especially
if the director does not wish to support the recommendations of the
Area meetings. Each area director is charged with the
responsibility of meeting with all principals in his/her area on
a regular basis. This person is given the responsibility of
acting as chief liaison between the school principals and the
District Office and is to share all pertinent information and
directives from the District Office that concern school administra-
tion in that particular area's schools. Few major decisions seem
to be made by these groups and they are perceived by others as being
primary information dissemination vehicles. Principals indicated
they relied more on their peer groups rather than the area principals
when a significant issue is discussed.
Principals' meetings. All elementary, junior high, and high
school principals have regularly scheduled meetings with their peers.
This occurs at least monthly. The major purpose of these meetings
is to share information impacting upon the delivery of services to
any particular group of schools, to make recommendations on decisions
that may affect that group and to discuss issues of interest and
make recommendations to the District Office. A chairman is elected
from each body and remains in that office for a year. The chairman
represents the principal's group on the Superintendent's Educational
Management Group. At least one other member of that principal's
group also serves as a representative.
Recommendations from each group may be made directly to the
superintendent, to the Assistant Superintendent for Administration,
to the area directors, or to the school board. Each principal inter-
viewed denied being restricted to a channel through the Assistant
Superintendent of Administration.
These groups are considered by many persons interviewed to
be quite powerful and to have much impact on decision making in
the district. The secondary principals are seen as most and
junior high principals are seen as least influential by most
respondents including themselves.
This chapter has presented a description of the setting within
which this study was conducted. The environments,both community and
educational, are described in some detail. Formal groups that
participate in the decision making process are also described.
In this chapter, the procedures utilized in this study of an
urban county in Florida with a description of the sample, instru-
mentation, and interviewing procedures are presented. A descrip-
tion of the procedures used in analyzing the data is also included.
The design employed in this study is an adaptation of that
developed by Kimbrough (1975) and used in studies of community and
organizational leadership (Bartholomew, 1972; Collins, 1979;
Fleming, 1963; lannaccone, 1959; Johns & Kimbrough, 1968; McCluskey,
1973). A case study of the decision making process and the identi-
fied influentials in a selected urban school district was completed.
This district was selected because of its size, proximity to the home
of the researcher, and because it is considered by a number of
educators to be a prime example of an effective bureaucratic educa-
The sample selected for this study included administrative
staff from both the district and school levels, and school board
members from a large urban school district in Florida of between
75,000 and 125,000 students. Data obtained from interviews with
these individuals were used to determine which individuals and
which major decision areas were investigated in depth.
The Interview Sample
The field research portion of this study was initiated with the
selection of a cross-section of persons who generated a list of
individuals they perceived to be influential in the decision making
process in the school system as well as to identify issues they felt
were important to the school system during the past three years.
Subsystems within the system were identified and representative
persons were chosen from within each of those groupings. Segments
of the school district that were selected included each of the
divisions of the district school board office, principals' groups,
and school board members (see Table 5).
Interviews With the Selected Informants
Interview Guide A (see Appendix A) was used in interviewing the
59 selected informants in regard to the identification of influentials,
issues, and organizations within the school district that were
important in educational decision making. Each individual was con-
tacted and interviewed using the questions contained in Interview
Guide A. The objectives of the study were explained and each
participant was assured of his/her anonymity.
Number and Percentage of Total Division Staff
Division or Major Group Number Interviewed Percentage of
School Board 3 43
Division of Administration 9 21
Division of Business 5 10
Division of Instruction 9 10
Division of Personnel 4 7
Division of Support Services 3 10
Division of Vocational-Technical 4 10
Senior High Principals 2 18
Junior High Principals 4 16
Elementary Principals 16 18
TOTAL 59 15
The major instruments used in this study were adaptations of
the Interview Guides developed by Kimbrough (1975). These were
used to elicit essential information concerning the power structure,
influentials, and significant issues or decision made within the
Interview Guide A
Interview Guide A (Appendix A) was used to identify the most
significant issues or problems with which the organization has had
to contend over the past three years. Those persons were then
identified who were seen to be the most influential in the
initiation or implementation phases of these issue areas. Those
organizations viewed by those persons interviewed as having the most
influence on decision making in the schools were identified. Also
identified were those persons within those influential organizations
who were perceived to have exerted the most influence in specific
Interview Guide B
Interview Guide B (Appendix B) was used with those persons
identified in the initial interview as having or wielding significant
power within the district organization. Personal data as well as
opinion concerning the relative weight of involvement in issues were
elicited from each identified influential. Personal information
concerning each influential interviewed was also obtained during the
Selected professional staff in the administrative structure of
the district schools as well as school board members were interviewed,
and data were collected regarding those persons perceived as influential,
issues of importance, and influential involvement in the resolution of
those issues studied. In order to effectively identify leaders
and groups who were influential as well as the significant decisions
in the school district, a cross-section of persons was chosen for the
initial interviews with Interview Guide A. A random sample from each
of the major segments of the district office, the school board, and
the principals' groups was made. Fifty-nine persons from the above-
mentioned groups were interviewed with the use of the initial interview
guide. From 7 to 43 percent of professional members of each group
participated in the interview sessions. Each person was interviewed
and responded to the questions indicated in that document.
Interview Guide B was used in this study to interview those
persons designated as influentials. It was also used in order to
determine their involvement with specific decisions made for the
district as well as their involvement in groups that are considered
Persons designated as influential were determined to be those
persons who were selected by three or more of the initial interviewees
as being significant decision makers in the district school system.
Relative influence among designated leaders as well as their involve-
ment in influential groups was also ascertained both by self-report
and report of other influentials.
Influential formal organizations were identified by those persons
responding to Interview Guide A. Further investigation of those named
as most influential was conducted in more depth during the second
series of interviews. Questions were phrased about decision making
within the total district in order to encourage respondents to
discuss in great detail their perception of both the formal and
informal decision making process in the school district. Data
collected from the responses to these questions were exceedingly
helpful in the later interpretation of roles and relationships that
existed within the organization.
Three decisions were selected from those that were mentioned by
persons interviewed as being most significant. Two were selected
because they were ranked by those persons interviewed initially as the
two most important or significant decisions. The third issue was
selected because it was an issue that was currently being considered
by the school board and the investigator was able to observe some of
the involvement of the influentials in reaching resolution. The
three decisions were (a) the funding and resultant requirements of
federal funding for the handicapped, (b) the closing of schools in
the district, and (c) the decision to ban smoking by students on high
school campuses. For each of the decisions made or being made, each
influential was asked to determine the position he/she took, contacts
made, and the manner in which the decision was finally resolved.
Opportunity was given to each person to comment freely on the issues
or on related issues. Documentary evidence as well as observation
of the activities of some of the formal groups was used in studying
the individual decisions.
Data from this study were utilized in a descriptive manner
using total raw data as well as rank order of responses. A con-
figuration of the decision making structure as it existed at the
time the study was completed was obtained by utilizing analyses of
individual influentials, formal and informal relationships, and
decisions or issues confronting the district.
Persons Identified as Influential
Each of the identified leaders was ranked by each of the
other leaders as well as by himself/herself on a five-point scale.
Each rating was assigned a weighting of seven to zero with seven
representing "exceptionally strong district wide influence," five
indicating "strong district wide influence," three representing
"strong special area and some district wide influence," one repre-
senting "some special area but little district wide influence,"
and zero indicating "little special area or district wide influence."
Each of the ratings was then added, divided by the highest possible
total raw score and multiplied by 100 to reach a simple proportion.
This score was used as one of the three factors utilized for the
final ranking of the influentials. These dysynchronous weightings
were used in order to adjust for respondents' propensity to attach
more importance or significance to the meaning of extreme choices.
The connotation of the superlatives used in designating the different
columns may reflect certain biases on the part of the respondents.
This procedure is often used in population and descriptive studies.
The second factor used for assessing total influence was
district/statewide influence ranking. A district/state influence
score was derived by dividing the number of times an influential
was recognized as having district and/or state influence by the
total number of interviews of influentials and then multiplying by
100 to calculate a simple proportion.
The third factor utilized was the total number of times an
influential was mentioned as being influential in the initial inter-
views. This total was divided by the total number of interviews and
then multiplied by 100 for a simple proportion.
Other information was collected concerning each identified leader
in the district. Specific questions concerning friendships, organiza-
tions to which each person belonged, persons whom the influentials
could count on for support or opposition for projects, educational
background and experience were included.
Decisions or Issues Identified as Significant
Three decisions were studied in depth during this investigation.
Decisions were selected because of their being mentioned most often
by the initial interview sample. Data collected both in the initial
and follow-up interviews were utilized as were secondary sources of
information such as minutes of school board meetings, discussions
with persons who were in attendance at specific meetings, newspaper
accounts of specific actions as well as documents shared by the
different divisions with specific groups within the organization.
The events that led to and related with the decision were presented
in both narrative and chronological order. Chapter V contains a
description of the decisions with regard to detailed actions of
the influentials in the decision making process concerning each
In this chapter, the results and findings are presented in
accordance with the procedures as outlined in Chapter IV. A
combination of adaptations of the reputational and decision analysis
techniques was used in completing this study. The reputational method
was used to identify decision makers and to assess their influence
with other influentials as well as with other persons involved in
the decision making process. The decision analysis method was used
to investigate decisions or issues that were perceived to be important
to the school community and the role of the identified influentials
in.reaching resolution of the identified problems.
Identification of Influentials
The selected informants were asked to identify those persons
they considered to be influential in the decision making process
within the school system and with the specific issues addressed.
Twenty-nine persons were nominated as being influential in the
school district. Of these 29, 13 were mentioned by three or more
persons as being particularly influential in decision making, both as
an individual and as a member of a group (Table 6).
Persons Nominated by Three or More Persons As Being
Influential in the Decision Making Process
Influential Position Number of Times Rank
RS Superintendent of Schools 41 1
PW Asst. Supt., Administration 27 2
SR Executive Dir., BCEA 24 3
FF Asst. Supt., Instruction 18 4
JL Gen. Dir., Exceptional Students 10 5.5
MR Chairperson, School Board 10 5.5
LW Gen. Dir., Elementary Education 8 7
WH Asst. Supt., Business 6 8.3
BH Member, School Board 6 8.3
LF Secondary Principal 6 8.3
RS Asst. Supt., Vocational Education 4 11.3
RC Asst. Supt., Personnel 4 11.3
HC Asst. Supt., Support Services 4 11.3
A follow-up interview was designed to obtain personal data
about each individual as well as to measure the degree of influence
which the influentials attributed to each other, to organizational
memberships, and to influentials' participation in these activities
and involvement in major issues.
Administrative personnel within the school system as well as
school board members and the executive director of the county
educational association were nominated as influential. All adminis-
trative divisions of the school bureaucracy were represented by their
assistant superintendents and only the Division of Instruction was
represented by more than one person. Two school board members were
indicated as being influential in decision making; one is the current
chairperson and the other filled that position last term and has the
longest tenure on the board. The executive director of the education
association was indicated as being influential, but only as a member
of the group he represented. His name was indicated only once apart
from the group itself.
Rankings of the Leaders
Weighted influence ranking. All of those persons nominated as
being influential by the first group of interviewees were asked to
rate both themselves as well as the other influentials as outlined
in Interview Guide B (Appendix B). Each influential was ranked
according to a five factor scale by every other influential and by
himself. The five factors were (a) exceptionally strong district
wide influence, (b) strong district wide influence, (c) strong
special area and some district wide influence, (d) some special but
little district wide influence, and (e) little special area or
district wide influence. Each of the columns was assigned a
weighting in order to recognize respondents' inclination to attach
more importance or significance to the meaning of words denoting
the extremes, e.g., "exceptionally" and "little." These total scores
were calculatedby adding the number of weighted points in each
column for each influential. These overall scores were then used
to place individuals in a hierarchy of influence (Table 7).
Categories and Weights Assigned
Interview Guide B
Exceptionally strong district wide influence 7
Strong district wide influence 5
Strong special area and some district wide
Some special area but little district wide
Little special area or district wide influence 0
The raw score was computed by the number of points each indivi-
dual was given in each of the five categories, multiplied by the
weighting, and then added together. The weighted column placement
was calculated by dividing the total raw score by the total possible
score and multiplying by 100. A perfect raw score would be 84 since
one of the influentials refused to rank the other influentials in the
An examination of the data in Table 8 reveals that scores range
from a high of 100.00 to a low of 34.52. The Assistant Superintendent
for Administration was the only person who rivaled the superintendent
who had a perfect weighted score of 100.00. The Assistant Superinten-
dent had nine exceptionally strong district wide and two strong
district wide influence votes for his total of 90.47.
Only three of the six assistant superintendents, but both the
school board members, are in the upper half of the listing. Both of
the general directors, on the third level on the administrative chart,
are found in the lower half of the table but are ranked higher than
the three assistant superintendents. The executive director of the
county education association was ranked seventh with a score of
57.14, higher than the general directors and three of the assistant
District/statewide influence ranking. Each influential was asked
to name those influentials whom he or she believed had district wide
or statewide influence in educational matters. A district/state
influence score was derived by dividing the number of times an
influential was recognized as having district or state influence by
the total number of interviews. A simple proportion was then
calculated by multiplying this score by 100, Among the influentials
interviewed, the highest score was 91, given to the superintendent.
The lowest scores were awarded to the Assistant Superintendent for
Support Services and the Assistant Superintendent for Administration
with an 8.33 and the school board member and the principal of the
high school with zero (Table 9).
Weighted Column Placement of County Influentials
Interview Guide B
Influential Position Weighted Rank
RS Superintendent 100.00 1
PW Asst. Supt., Administration 90.47 2
WH Asst. Supt., Business 71.42 3.5
FF Asst. Supt., Instruction 71.42 3.5
BH School Board Member 66.66 5
MR Chairperson, School Board 58.33 6
SR Exec. Director, Educ. Assoc. 57.14 7
LW Gen. Director, Elementary Ed. 52.00 8
JL Gen. Director, Excep. Students 47.61 9
RC Asst. Supt., Personnel 41.66 10
LF Principal, High School 36.90 11
RS Asst. Supt., Vocational-Technical 34.52 12.5
HC Asst. Supt., Support Services 34.52 12.5
District/Statewide Influence Ranking of Identified Influentials
Influential Position Weighted Rank
RS Superintendent of Schools 91.00 1
FF Asst. Supt., Instruction 75.00 2
JL General Director, Excep. Student 66.66 3
WH Asst. Supt., Business 50.00 4
LW General Director, Elementary Ed. 25.00 5.5
RS Asst. Supt., Vocational-Technical 25.00 5.5
MR Chairperson, School Board 16.66 7.3
SR Executive Director, Educ. Assoc. 16.66 7.3
RC Asst. Supt., Personnel 16.66 7.3
PW Asst. Supt., Administration 8.33 10.5
HC Asst. Supt., Support Services 8.33 10.5
BH Board Member 0 12.5
LF Principal, High School 0 12.5
Table 10 shows the compilation of the two scores achieved by
each of the influentials as they were ranked by the other influentials
and by themselves. The ranking indicates the final ranking on the
two indices used in Interview Guide B.
Final Ranking of Influentials by Themselves and
Other Influentials Using Interview Guide B
Influential Position Weighted Local/State Rank
RS Superintendent 100.00 91.00 1
FF Asst. Supt., Instruc. 71.42 75.00 2
WH Asst. Supt., Business 71.42 50.00 3
JL Gen. Dir., ESE 47.61 66.66 4
PW Asst. Supt., Admin. 90.47 8.33 5
LW Gen. Dir., Ele. Ed. 52.00 25.00 6
MR School Board Chairperson 58.33 16.66 7
SR Executive Dir., Educ. Asso. 57.14 16.66 8
BH School Board Member 66.66 0 9
RS Asst. Supt., Voc. Ed. 34.52 25.00 10
RC Asst. Supt., Personnel 41.66 8.33 11
HC Asst. Supt., Supp. Ser. 34.52 8.33 12
LF Secondary Principal 36.90 0 13
As seen by themselves, the influentials ranked the super-
intendent as the most influential, followed by the Assistant
Superintendent for Instruction and the Assistant Superintendent
for Business. The General Director, Exceptional Student Education,
was ranked fourth, and the Assistant Superintendent for Administra-
tion, fifth, followed by the General Director for Elementary Education.
The chairperson of the school board is the median ranked person. In
the lower half of the rankings, the three shortest-tenured assistant
superintendents, the school board member, and the executive director
of the educational organization are found. The low local/state
influence of the school board member and the Assistant Superintendent
for Administration significantly lowered their respective scores and
Times nominated ranking. The number of total times the identified
influential was selected as being influential by the first group
interviewed was also considered in perceiving the total influence of
the individuals. The maximum number of times a person could be chosen
was 57 and this number was divided into the total number of times a
person was selected by one of the original informants. The resulting
quotient was then multiplied by 100 in order to obtain a simple
proportion (see Table 11).
The scores in this category ranged from a 71.92 to 7.01 with the
superintendent scoring the highest followed by the Assistant Super-
intendent for Administration and the executive director of the
educational association. The Assistant Superintendent for Instruction
was the only other person selected by more than 25 percent of the
total persons interviewed (Table 9).
Persons Identified Three or More Times as Influential
With Interview Guide A
Influential Position Percentage of Rank
RS Superintendent of Schools 71.92 1
PW Asst. Supt., Administration 47.36 2
SR Ex. Director, Educ. Association 42.10 3
FF Asst. Supt., Instruction 31.57 4
JL Gen. Dir., Ex. Student Ed. 17.54 5.5
MR Chairperson, School Board 17.54 5.5
LW Gen. Dir., Elementary Educ. 14.03 7
WH Asst. Supt., Business 10.52 8.3
BH Member, School Board 10.52 8.3
LF Principal, High School 10.52 8.3
RS Asst. Supt., Vocational-Technical 7.01 11.3
RC Asst. Supt., Personnel 7.01 11.3
HC Asst. Supt., Support Services 7.01 11.3
Comparison of final rankings of the leaders. Table 12 indicates
the final rankings by two groups of persons; one questioned with
Interview Guide A and the other with Interview Guide B, a non-randomly
selected group. A comparison of the results of these two rankings
indicated there was agreement as to the superintendent being the most
influential and to the relative ranking in the lower half of influence
of the Assistant Superintentent for Personnel, the Assistant
Superintendent for Support Services, and the Assistant Super-
intendent for Vocational-Technical Education--all assistant
superintendents with shorter tenure than the other assistant super-
Comparison of Final Rankings by Two Groups, One Using
Interview Guide A and the Other Using Interview Guide B
Influential Position Rank Rank
Interview Guide A Interview Guide B
RS Superintendent of Schools 1 1
PW Asst. Supt., Administr. 2 5
SR Ex. Dir., Educ. Assoc. 3 8
FF Asst. Supt., Instruction 4 2
JL Gen. Dir., ESE 5.5 4
MR Chairperson, School Board 5.5 7
LW Gen. Dir., Elementary Ed. 7 6
WH Asst. Supt., Business 8.3 3
BH School Board Member 8.3 9
LF Secondary Principal 8.3 13
RS Asst. Supt., Vocational 11.3 10
RC Asst. Supt., Personnel 11.3 11
HC Asst. Supt., Support Ser. 11.3 12
There was, however, much greater divergence in perceived
influence for the Assistant Superintendent for Administration,
the general directors, and the Assistant Superintendent for
Business. See Table 12 for a comparison of final rankings for
Interview Guide A and Interview Guide B.
General Characteristics of the Influentials
A brief description of data from interviews using Interview
Guide B is presented and includes data on age, children, education,
organizational memberships, and friendships. The above variables
may impact upon the influential rankings in an organization and thus
have importance to this study.
The ages of the influentials ranged from the middle thirties to
the middle sixties. One of the influentials, the Executive Director
of the education association was in his middle thirties; five
individuals were in the 41-50 age grouping; and one was in the 61-70
grouping, the member of the school board who is planning retirement
at the end of the year.
Males predominated in the list of influentials in this study.
Only one female was in the list of indicated influentials and she
was primarily indicated as being influential because of her status
as chairperson of the district school board. Only two informants
saw her as having influence as an individual rather than as an
officer of the school board.
Six of the influentials were lifetime residents of the area.
All others have lived in the district for over 25 years with the
exception of the superintendent who has lived in the county for the
13 years he has been superintendent. The highest ranked long-time
resident was the Assistant Superintendent for Instruction. Eight of
the influentials graduated from high school in the school district.
Years of Education
All of the influentials who were employed by the school system
have worked in education for more than 14 years. The superintendent,
with a background in school finance, has served in a number of educa-
tional positions for 30 years; the Assistant Superintendent for
Instruction has been in the educational program for 25 years; and the
Assistant Superintendent for Administration has been in the school
business for 40 years. The executive director of the education
association has been a teacher for 14 years. The two school board
members have served in their jobs as school board members for five
years (chairperson) and 20 years (member and past chairperson). The
present chairperson taught for one year immediately after her gradua-
tion from college.
All of the school employees named as influential in the county
hold at least a master's degree. Two of the persons have earned a
doctoral degree, the superintendent and the General Director of
Exceptional Students. One other person, the General Director for
Elementary Education, is completing his doctorate with Nova University
this year. None of the assistant superintendents have a degree higher
than a master's. Both school board members hold a bachelor's degree;
the chairperson in speech therapy and the other member has a degree
When asked why the dearth of doctorates at the assistant super-
intendent level, the answer uniformly given was that a doctorate
would make no real difference. All of the persons holding those
positions were where they wished to be and none wished to move to
another position that would necessitate a higher degree. It was
indicated that each of these persons was seen as retiring from those
positions currently held and that they were competently carrying out
the duties and responsibilities of those jobs. Those persons who did
have doctorates or who were aspiring to complete advanced degrees were
seen as either contemplating a move from the district and the degree
would give more bargaining power or being considered as a possible
assistant superintendent when persons currently holding those positions
might retire. The superintendent was employed by the district school
board and one of the criteria applicants for that office had to meet
was to hold a doctorate.
Marital Status/Number of Children
All of the influentials were married at the time of the interviews.
All had at least one child who either did or does attend public schools.
One, the principal of the high school, had six children; the
superintendent of schools had five; the school board member, four;
both general directors had three; six influentials had two children
each, including five of the assistant superintendents; and two
decision makers had one child each.
Identification of Formal Organizations
and Informal Relationships
The relationships, both formal and informal, among the influen-
tials in this school district organization, are examined and discussed
in this section. Using the interview data from Interview Guide B
(Appendix B), a number of relationships were identified. The formal
relationships included membership in professional and community
organizations as well as the identification of the important form
organizations themselves. The informal relationships included close
friendships, project friends, and project opponents.
The identification of important organizations in the county is
helpful to this study because it provides the context through which
decisions and persons are influenced in making decisions. A study of
the data obtained from Interview Guide A (Appendix A) indicates that
28 organizations were mentioned three or more times as having
influence in the decision making process (see Table 13).
The county teachers' association was indicated as influential
40 times, or 70 percent, of the total group interviewed. Senior high
principals were mentioned second most often as being influential and
28 persons, or 49 percent of the total interviewed, felt this group
Organizations Identified Three or More Times
as Influential by Selected Informants
Organization Number of Percentage of
Times Selected Total
County Education Association 40 70
Senior High Principals 28 49
County School Board 24 42
Elementary Principals 21 37
Citizens Advisory Committee 21 37
Superintendent's Educational 16 28
PTA County Council 12 21
Assistant Superintendents 9 16
Junior High Principals 9 16
Urban League/NAACP 6 11
Parent Advisory Group 4 7
Area Directors 3 5
Biracial Committee 3 5
Vocational Advisory Committee 3 5
was significantly important in decision making. The district school
board was third in the number of votes it received with 24, or 42
percent of the total persons interviewed. Elementary principals
and the Citizens' Advisory Committee both received 21 votes, or 37
percent of the total. The Superintendent's Educational Management
Group was indicated as being influential in decision making by 16
persons, or by 28 percent of the total group interviewed. The PTA
County Council, of which the chairperson of the school board was
chairperson prior to being elected to the school board, received 12
votes, or 27 percent of the total. Assistant superintendents and
junior high principals both received nine votes, or 16 percent of the
total. Both the Urban League and the NAACP were indicated by six
persons as being important groups impinging upon the decision making
process. The remaining organizations were nominated fewer than five
The influentials viewed the formal organizations impacting upon
decision making in the school district differently. They felt that
the Assistant Superintendents Group was the most important organiza-
tion followed by the Division Meetings headed by the assistant super-
intendents. The Divisional Meetings were, according to the influentials,
extremely important to the entire decision making process because,
unless a decision made a great deal of impact upon another division,
those persons within that particular division made the decision. The
Assistant Superintendent's Group then acted merely as a sounding board
for the solution and passed it on to the Superintendent's Educational
Management Group as a positive measure.
If, however, there was considerable impact on another division
and there was a difference of opinion as to what the appropriate
decision should be, the Assistant Superintendent's Group made the
decision. That disagreement might flow on to the Superintendent's
Educational Management Group but few decisions were countermanded by
the superintendent or by the other groups that existed in the district
with the exception of the school board.
The influentials saw the school board as being very powerful if
it chose to be. As mentioned earlier, most of the recommendations of
the superintendent that the board voted against were special interest
and largely non-curricular in nature, e.g., smoking areas, deciding
where the high school football game would be played, etc. Most of
the educational decisions were supported by the majority of the
school board most of the time.
The principals' groups were also seen as influential in the
decision making process. The senior high principals were viewed as
the most powerful both because they were few in number and there
was less disagreement among them. They also had much comtact with
community leaders and parents via the sports activities and cultural
events with which the elementary and junior high school principals
were not as much involved. These groups were seen as being much
more like-minded than were the area principals' groups.
Community groups had much impact on school board decisions if
they became actively involved in school board meetings. The closing
of schools was directly affected by minority groups' expressed
interest in their community schools. As a result of this emotional
input, the school board directed the superintendent to rework the
recommendations made to that group.
In summary, most of the decisions in this school district were
made within the six divisions in the district office. If major
controversy occurredorif there was major overlap among division
in the resolution of a given issue, the Assistant Superintendent's
Group agreed upon a solution. Input may be given by other groups
within the district but most decisions were not changed to any great
degree after being made by one of these two groups. The Superinten-
dent's Educational Management Group had effectively acted as a
communication vehicle in informing members of the administrative
community of major decisions and reasons for them. It did not,
however, make major changes in decisions made by either of the two
The superintendent was recognized as having the power to change
any decision made by any group other than the school board. He did
not use that power very often and usually supported his assistant
superintendents' recommendations. He also refused to get involved
in an inter-division disagreement concerning PL 94-142 monies and
suggested that the disgruntled division member solve her problem
within the division itself.
The school board usually supported the superintendent's recom-
mendations. Rarely have they voted against his suggestions and then
only if the issue concerned a special interest area for them or if
the public became very involved in the concern.
Membership in Professional Organizations
All of the influentials were members of the associations that
served their particular area of expertise with the exception of
the Assistant Superintendent for Administration who listed the
National Education Association and the local credit union as his
only professional affiliations. Ten of the influentials listed
national memberships and one, the General Director of Exceptional
Students, served as a national officer in two organizations. Six
influentials indicated holding state offices in their respective
organization, served as secretary of the local Democratic Party,
the only respondent who indicated direct political involvement as
an office holder. The superintendent, three assistant superinten-
dents, and the general directors indicated much informal political
contact both through their organizations and individually. The
newly formed Florida Association for School Administrators was seen as
an important decision making organization in the state by eight of
the 13 influentials.
Membership in Civic and Other Organizations
All of the influentials indicated varying degrees of involvement
in civic and other organizations. Kiwanis, Chambers of Commerce,
Hospital Board, Shriners, Sherriff's Possee, and church affiliations
were all mentioned. Table 14 indicates the major affiliations of the
The Methodist Church was the most often mentioned organization
to which the influentials belonged. This was a different church,
however, for each influential. The Chamber of Commerce for different
Major Affiliations of Influentials
Influential Position Affiliations
Superintendent of Schools
Assistant Supt., Instruction
Assistant Supt., Adminis.
Assistant Supt., Business
Gen. Dir., Ex. Students
Exec. Dir., Educ. Assoc.
Chairperson, School Board
Gen. Dir., Elem. Ed.
Member, School Board
Asst. Supt., Voc. Ed.
Asst. Supt., Personnel
Hospital Board, Chamber of
Commerce; United Fund
Director; Boy Scouts; Nation-
al Football Hall of Fame;
Major's Art Council;
Kiwanis; Kentucky Colonels
Crewe of Knights of Sant Y
Ago; Catholic School Board;
McDonald Training Center;
Lighhouse for the Blind;
Mental Health Advisory Board;
Bay Community College
Democratic Party (local)
Gov. Council on Criminal
Justice; Commission on Crime
Advocacy; Committee for
Criminal Justice; Tampa
Marine Institute; Methodist
Chamber of Commerce; Shrine;
Masons; Bay County Posse
Kiwanis; Boy Scouts, Little
United Fund; Salvation Army;
Influential Position Affiliations
HC Asst. Supt., Support Family Y; Sheriff's Advisory
LF Secondary Principal Florida Sport Aviation;
Rotary; Chamber of Commerce
(in three cities)
towns in the district made up the second-most often mentioned organiza-
tion of which these leaders were members. United Fund, Kiwanis, and
Boy Scouts were mentioned next. These were the only organizations
that had influential members in common. All of the other organiza-
tions to which the leaders belonged seemed to be indicative of their
special interests, both recreational and civic.
Clubs and organizations did appear to be important sources of
influence for the identified leaders in this district. The church
affiliation was common for a number of these persons and, in a
relatively conservative area, probably did have impact on their
overall influence in the community. Membership in the Chamber of
Commerce seemed to be a significant asset for several of the
influentials as did Kiwanis and Boy Scouts.
The superintendent belonged to the most organizations and held
the most offices in those groups. The organizations of which he was
a member were located in the county seat while others belonged to
the same organization in other towns in the district, e.g.,
Chambers of Commerce. He was considered a member of "the society
The General Director of Exceptional Student Education was also
a member of many organizations. A long term resident of the county,
he had held many offices in the organizations to which he belonged.
His influence was felt by many to be in large part a product of his
being almost a "home-town boy" since he graduated from school in the
area and knew many of the influentials in the city from boyhood.
His wife was a member of the Spanish community in the city and he
was considered influential both by the Anglo and Hispanic populations.
The chairperson of the school board had also been a lifelong
resident of the area. She had been involved in many areas but had
been especially interested in the area of criminal justice for youth.
She was recognized statewide for her endeavors and was named as a
member of a state committee in criminal justice by the governor. She
was associated with the large military population in the area through
her husband who was a retired officer.
The high school principal was very involved in civic activities
and indicated that he felt it was essential for secondary principals
to become a part of the community served by their school. He had
many contacts in several of the communities in this county and
maintained membership in the Chambers of Commerce in three different
cities. His interest in his community was well known and he was
asked to serve on the committee investigating the local community
The Assistant Superintendent for Business was involved with a
number of different business groups in the major city. He has
served as an officer in these organizations and was considered a
very knowledgeable person in his field. His expertise in the finan-
cial world was utilized by those organizations of which he was a
The Assistant Superintendent for Administration indicated
that he belonged to only Kiwanis and the Kentucky Colonels, joined
when he was in Kentucky. He felt that organizational membership
for the sake of knowing the community and influencing decisions was
a "waste of time." He also felt that membership in professional
organizations was "ridiculous" unless it served some specific need
of the member. He appeared to feel that his knowledge was adequate
to handle the job and other information was unnecessary. He indicated
that he was not well known in the community as were some of the other
district staff members.
Informal Relationships and Friendships
Informal relationships have been shown to be of utmost importance
in the decision making process. These may take the forms of friend-
ships that revolve around memberships in organizations, coffee groups,
or any other informal communicating enablers. An interesting array
of relationships existed in the school district organization and is
examined in this section.
Close friendships. The identified influentials were given a list
of the 13 influentials indicated by the initial interviewees as
important decision makers within the school organization. They were
asked to identify those persons whom they considered close friends
and with whom they had a relationship that extended beyond the
school day and duties associated with their jobs. Mutual choices
were those choices made that were reciprocated by the person
selected as a friend. Unilateral decisions or decisions made for
another influential and not reciprocated were also noted.
Figure 1 shows the mutual choices made among the influentials
in the school organization. The concentric circles indicate the
groupings of influentials as indicated by their responses on
Interview Guide B concerning their perceptions of their own influence
as well as that of the other indicated influentials. The inner
circle indicates those of slightly less influence; and the outside
circle indicates those persons who have the least influence within
the influential grouping.
MR RS WH
Mutual Choices of Friendships Among Influentials
There were 18 choices made by the 13 influentials. Only one
of these was a mutual choice. The other 17 choices were unilateral
choices. One of the leaders, the Assistant Superintendent for
Administration, refused to name any friends within the organization
and the superintendent selected only professional friends.
The mutual choice made the Assistant Superintendent for
Instruction and the secondary principal (FF and LF) dated back,
according to the influentials themselves, over many years. They
had both been principals together and LF worked under FF's direction
as his General Director of Secondary Education for several years.
Although neither indicated their families had any-major interaction,
they had attended meetings together and had remained close personal
friends. Both indicated a close working relationship with the other
and felt they had the same orientation to education.
Figure 2 indicates the choices made for all influentials by
each of the other influentials. As indicated above, only one mutual
choice was made. The Assistant Superintendent for Instruction and
the Assistant Superintendent for Administration received the most
nominations with four each. The Assistant Superintendent for Business,
the General Director for Exceptional Students, and the secondary
principal received three choices each. The executive director of the
education association was selected once. None of the other six
influentials was chosen by any other influential.
The Assistant Superintendent for Personnel chose the largest
number of friends. Since his department crosses all department
boundaries, he knows many people in the other divisions. He is also
the head of the negotiating team for the district and thus comes
into contact with the membership in the educational association.
Mutual and Unilateral Choices Among Influentials
The Assistant Superintendent for Instruction (FF) was chosen by
four other influentials as was the AssistantSuperintendent for
Administration (PW). Only one of the persons who selected oneof the
assistant superintendents also selected the other, i.e., the Assistant
Superintendent for Support Services (HC). HC is the newest assistant
superintendent within the organization and the only minority. He was
described by two other influentials as the type of person who
"hedged his bets" and who wanted to avoid as much negative reaction
as possible. Since his programs are greatly affected by both the
Division of Instruction and the Division of Administration, it was
not surprising to see both of these choices.
PW's other three choices were made by the General Director of
Elementary Education and the two board members. LW was described
as a person who "was on his way up" and wanted to be where the power
was. He indicated that PW was the most powerful person in the district
office and, therefore, aligned himself with him. Another influential
described LW as the kind of person who would "step on his own child
to get to the top" but felt that his aligning himself with PW was not
a reciprocal relationship.
Although the Assistant Superintendent for Instruction (FF) was
described by many of his coworkers as being so democratic that
division business failed to get accomplished because the time was
spent allowing everyone affected to "have his say," he was also one
of the two most often chosen by the other influentials. Three of the
other assistant superintendents felt he was their personal friend.
Project friends. When questioned about professional friendships,
all school persons except the Assistant Superintendent for Administra-
tion indicated a strong positive feeling for others on the influential
list. Especially strong ties seemed to exist between and among the
"old timers" with the exception of the Assistant Superintendent for
Administration (PW) who expressed strong feelings about the school
board members on the influential list. The school board members
indicated positive ties with PW as well. The General Director of
Exceptional Students appeared to be quite close professionally to
all of the assistant superintendents except PW who expressed
negative feelings about the General Director of Exceptional
Students (JL) in other discussions. The General Director for
Elementary Education (LW) did not appear to have the same contacts
with the assistant superintendents as did JL.
Table 15 indicates those persons perceived as helpful in having
a project approved. The superintendent surpasses all other
influentials as being seen as supportive of projects. Most respondents
felt that, by the time a proposal reached his desk, it would have
received approval through the assistant superintendent's level and
that the superintendent usually supported his assistant superintendents.
If, however, a great deal of negative community or school board
reaction was felt, the influentials saw the superintendent as backing
down and either withdrawing the proposal or having it rewritten or
reworked in order to remove the offending segments. The superintendent
saw himself as a professional friend and supporter of all of the
influentials with the exception of the executive director of the
The Assistant Superintendent for Administration was seen as .the
second-most likely person to support a project or proposal. However,
he was also seen as the most likely person to oppose a project. He
was supportive only if he totally agreed with the thrust of the
proposal and was non-supportive otherwise.
The Assistant Superintendent for Business was seen as the third
most likely person to support action by other influentials. The
power of finance was obviously recognized by all of the other
influentials and they indicated they contacted this division early
in the planning stages of a new project to see if support was
Influentials Perceived to be Supportive or
Non-Supportive to Projects Proposed by Other Influentials
Influential Perceived As Perceived As
RS, Superintendent 8 2
FF, Asst. Supt., Instruction 4 1
WH, Asst. Supt., Business 3 0
JL, General Director, ESE 1 0
PW, Asst. Supt., Administration 5 6
LW, General Director, Elem. Ed. 0 1
MR, School Board Chairperson 2 2
SR, Executive Director, Ed. Assoc. 0 3
BH, School Board Member 2 2
RS, Asst. Supt., Vocational 0 0
RC, Asst. Supt., Personnel 2 1
HC, Asst. Supt., Support Services 2 0
LF, Secondary Principal 1 0
School board members were also seen as supportive. Most
influentials reported some preliminary contact with members prior
to official presentation of a project to the total board. Both
school board members indicated they appreciated this move and felt
no reluctance on the part of the superintendent for his assistants
to do this. The superintendent also supported this move by his staff
although he wanted to be aware of and in agreement with the situation
in question. The superintendent perceived the school board as being
very supportive of his requests. Other influentials agreed but felt
this was because the superintendent was able to assess the board's
feeling and know if any proposal "had a 100 percent chance of passing."
Most of the "no" votes he had received were seen as primarily non-
educational and insignificant to the major educational process.
Project opponents. The Assistant Superintendent for Administra-
tion (PW): was perceived as the person most likely to be against a
particular project put forth by one of the other influentials. He
was described as being against everything he was "not totally for."
All of the other influentials felt that PW presented the most
difficult obstacle for them to overcome since he has so much impact
in so many areas in the county office. He was seen as the super-
intendent's hatchet man and enjoyed that role to a great extent.
The executive director of the education association (SR) was
seen as the second most likely person to oppose proposals. The
three persons who perceived him in this way were the superintendent
and the two school board members. Many people interviewed felt SR
would disagree with something publicly in order.-togive.the union
some notice and newspaper space. They also felt he did not compare
favorably with the former director who is now the mayor of the city
and was always attempting to get as much attention as possible in
order to appear to have the same impact as his predecessor.
The superintendent was seen as one of the most likely persons
to oppose projects if he did not feel they were extremely likely to
achieve passage by the school board. He was described as "politically
savvy" and used some board members as a sounding board prior to
approaching the board as a whole with a given proposal. Some of
those persons interviewed felt the superintendent would occasionally
present an item to the board that he knew would be rejected in order
to let the board feel they had ultimate control of the total school
situation. Everyone interviewed agreed, however, that no proposal
would reach the board if he did not agree with it. He had total
control of that aspect and few employees would attempt to make contact
with the board in direct opposition to his wishes.
The school board was also perceived as an important opponent of
some proposals. Most influentials felt that most projects the
superintendent presented were very likely to pass with board approval.
The board was described as very unpredictable in its voting on
specific items. In fact, the influentials indicated that no three
board members would ever be on the same side of several different
issues and some would change their minds on a given issue if it was
presented at two different times. In one meeting observed during the
course of this investigation, one board member cast the deciding vote
for an issue at the beginning of the meeting, then asked that the
question be called again at the end of the meeting and case the
deciding vote against the same issue. The board appeared to give
much consideration to the feelings of the constituency and gave
those persons attending board meetings much opportunity to be
heard. Both applause and cat calls were usual responses to emotional
issues during these meetings.
Identification of Decisions and Issues
The identification of important decisions and issues was of
extreme importance to this study because it provided the framework
within which certain influentials acted and exerted influence upon
the final resolution of that particular problem. The selected informants
identified 38 issues, problems, or decisions confronting the county
schools within the past three years or were anticipated as being
problems in the near future. Of these, 14 were indicated by three
or more persons as having some impact on the system or subpart of the
system (see Table 16).
The funding and requirements for implementing Public Law 94-142,
Education of the Handicapped, was mentioned by 23 persons, or 40 per-
cent of the total interviewed. The closing of schools and the
resultant impact on the community, especially the black community
where most of the proposed schools to be closed were located, was the
second most often indicated problem with 24 percent of the persons
polled mentioning it. Salaries, both for instructional and non-instruc-
tional personnel, was mentioned as the third area of concern by 17
percent of those persons questioned. Compensatory educational program-
ming and back-to-basics was indicated by 15 percent of those polled as
Significant Issues, Problems, or Decisions Identified by
Number of Percentage of
Issues, Problems, or Decisions Times Total
Public Law 94-142 Funding and Implementation 23 40
Closing of Schools 14 24
Salaries 10 17
Compensatory Education Programming 9 15
Smoking Ban on High School Campuses 6 10
Attendance Policy 6 10
Restructuring Curriculum 5 8
Assessment of Students 4 7
Alternative Programs 3 5
Primary Education Program PREP 3 5
Summer School Year-Long Schooling 3 5
Budgets 3 5
Retesting Students in Plant City 3 5
Teacher Negotiations 3 5
being a concern. The smoking ban and the attendance policy, both
issues considered by the school board during this investigation,
were significant to 10 percent of those polled.
Restructuring the curriculum in order to provide more time for
specific subjects was seen as the seventh most important concern,
especially by the elementary principals. Eight of the 16 elementary
principals interviewed indicated this was of prime importance
especially with the coming implementation of the Primary Education
Program which was indicated by 5 percent of the group as being an
Other concerns receiving at least three expressions of importance
included: establishment of alternative programs, summer school and
year-long schooling, budgets, and teacher negotiations. Each was
mentioned by 5 percent of the population polled.
Several students from one of the smaller cities in the district
were retested on an examination in a manner not strictly in accordance
with policies established by the board. One of the students was the
son of a school board member and some attention was given to this
situation at two board meetings and in the local newspapers. Three
of the respondents felt this was an issue of importance at the time
of the interviews.
The other 24 issues mentioned were indicated by only one or two
persons. Most of these issues were primarily significant to the
specific job or area from which the person interviewed came or
worked, e.g., air conditioning the schools, bilingual education,
Affirmative Action, etc.