Staff perceptions of the influentials, issues, and the decision making process in a school system in Florida

Material Information

Staff perceptions of the influentials, issues, and the decision making process in a school system in Florida
Douglass, Jean K. ( Jean Kelly ), 1939-
Forgnone, Charles ( Thesis advisor )
Algozzine, Robert F. ( Reviewer )
Kimbrough, Ralph B. ( Reviewer )
Nickens, John M. ( Reviewer )
Nunnery, Michael Y. ( Reviewer )
Place of Publication:
Gainesville, Fla.
University of Florida
Publication Date:
Copyright Date:
Physical Description:
vii, 144 leaves : ill. ; 28 cm.


Subjects / Keywords:
Boards of education ( jstor )
Community associations ( jstor )
Counties ( jstor )
Decision making ( jstor )
Educational administration ( jstor )
Recommendations ( jstor )
School principals ( jstor )
School superintendents ( jstor )
Schools ( jstor )
Secretaries ( jstor )
Dissertations, Academic -- Special Education -- UF
Education -- Political aspects ( lcsh )
School districts -- Florida ( lcsh )
School management and organization -- Decision making ( lcsh )
Special Education thesis Ed. D
bibliography ( marcgt )
non-fiction ( marcgt )
Spatial Coverage:
United States -- Florida


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 organization members to ascertain the influentials int he 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 years. 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 ont he system during the past three years. Fourteen of those decisions were indicated by three or more persons as being particularly significant. 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.
Thesis (Ed. D.)--University of Florida, 1981.
Includes bibliographic references (leaves 129-133).
General Note:
General Note:
Statement of Responsibility:
by Jean K. Douglass.

Record Information

Source Institution:
University of Florida
Holding Location:
University of Florida
Rights Management:
All rights reserved, Board of Trustees of the University of Florida
Resource Identifier:
000294669 ( ALEPH )
07784405 ( OCLC )
ABS1004 ( NOTIS )


This item has the following downloads:

Full Text








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.






The Problem . .
Statement of the Problem .
Delimitations and Limitations .
Definition of Terms . .
Justification of the Study .
Organization of the Study . .



Introduction . .
Research in Decision Making .
Methodology . .



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 . .




Introduction . .
Overview . .
Sample .
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



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 . .
The Influentials .
Formal and Informal Organizations .
Decisions and Issues .


Conclusions ...... .. 122
General Recommendations .................. 126
Recommendations for Further Research .......... 126

REFERENCES . ... ..... .129




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



Jean K. Douglass

March, 1981

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.

The Problem

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

of influence.

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

should profit.

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

district organization.

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

also included.




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

(O'Hara, 1978).

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.

Table 1

Age Distribution

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

Economic Life

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


Table 2

Employment Distribution

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
Real Estate

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

they received.

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-

tional salaries.

Achievement Levels

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.

District Office

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

Statute 230.35).

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


Table 3

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

Administration &

Business &


Support Services


Technical, Adult
















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 meetings.

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.

Table 4

Administrative Staff Found Within Divisions

General Area General Asst. Principals,
Division Directors Directors Directors Directors Superv. Specialists, TOTAL
Assistants, or

Administration &
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

Vocational, Technical
& 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

making process.

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

improvements recommended.

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-

tional organization.


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.

Table 5

Number and Percentage of Total Division Staff
Initially Interviewed

Division or Major Group Number Interviewed Percentage of
Total Staff

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

problem resolution.

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

interview process.

Initial Interviews

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.

Follow-Up Interviews

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 Analysis

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

specific issue.



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).

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).

Table 7

Categories and Weights Assigned
Interview Guide B

Category Weighting

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).

Table 8

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

Table 9

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.

Table 10

Final Ranking of Influentials by Themselves and
Other Influentials Using Interview Guide B

Influential Position Weighted Local/State Rank
Column Influence
Score Score

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).

Table 11

Persons Identified Three or More Times as Influential
With Interview Guide A

Influential Position Percentage of Rank
Total Group

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-


Table 12

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.

Degrees Held

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

in business.

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.

Formal Organizations

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

Table 13

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
Management Group

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

Table 14

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

Parent-Teacher Organizations;
Hospital Board, Chamber of
Commerce; United Fund
Director; Boy Scouts; Nation-
al Football Hall of Fame;
Golf Club

Major's Art Council;

Kiwanis; Kentucky Colonels

Business groups

Crewe of Knights of Sant Y
Ago; Catholic School Board;
McDonald Training Center;
Lighhouse for the Blind;
Mental Health Advisory Board;
Bay Community College
Citizens' Investigation

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

Methodist Church

United Fund; Salvation Army;
Little League

Table 14--Continued

Influential Position Affiliations

HC Asst. Supt., Support Family Y; Sheriff's Advisory
Committee; Methodist

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.




Figure 1

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.

Figure 2

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

education association.

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


Table 15

Influentials Perceived to be Supportive or
Non-Supportive to Projects Proposed by Other Influentials

Influential Perceived As Perceived As
Supportive Non-Supportive

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

Table 16

Significant Issues, Problems, or Decisions Identified by
Selected Informants

Number of Percentage of
Issues, Problems, or Decisions Times Total
Nominated Respondents

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

important issue.

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.

Full Text
xml version 1.0 encoding UTF-8
REPORT xmlns http:www.fcla.edudlsmddaitss xmlns:xsi http:www.w3.org2001XMLSchema-instance xsi:schemaLocation http:www.fcla.edudlsmddaitssdaitssReport.xsd