AN ANALYSIS OF EXECUTIVE LEADERSHIP BELIEFS THAT CONTRIBUTE TO DISTRICT FINANCIAL STABILITY
Fairchild, Jennifer Helen Renee
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Funding Texas schools and the effect those finances have had on student achievement has been the center of many recent debates. Since the Gilmer-Aiken Act of 1949, which established the basis for the Foundation School Program, Texas has struggled with equity issues associated with school funding. State funding criteria as defined by Chapter 41 and Chapter 42 of the Texas Education Code, also referred to as the Robin Hood system, allowed for a redistribution of tax funds between property wealthy and property poor school districts. Superintendents faced with changes in a district’s financial status have found themselves exploring alternative ways to provide the services and guidance that the district needed to align with the goals and admonishments of the school board. The purpose of this study was to determine the strategies that Superintendents and Chief Financial Officers believe they utilized to ensure district financial stability in today’s changing economic designations. This qualitative study used interviews with six Superintendents and two Chief Financial Officers in eight districts, selected purposively to represent property wealth designated districts within the Eagle Ford Shale boundaries of South Central Texas. Face to face interviews were used to gather information about the strategies Superintendents and Chief Financial Officers believe contributed to district financial stability and described their experiences in regard to sudden property wealth conditions. The study design allowed participants the opportunity to verbalize their current views and beliefs on what strategies contributed to financial stability. The following themes emerged from the data: (a) Participants believed tax ratification elections and bonds were effective methods to keep locally generated funds from state recapture, (b) Participants believed monitoring and fiscal responsibility were necessary when faced with sudden wealth to maintain financial stability, and (c) Participants believed their community expectations sought no district financial status or practice change and renewed objection to state recapture. Outliers, relevant to the study were also included. Data collected from the eight participants indicated an awareness of their financial responsibilities and implications associated with sudden wealth. Varied methodologies were used to ensure financial stability despite the fact all districts were Chapter 41 and utilized multiple approaches. Notwithstanding the methodology used, the consequences and debt of their approaches inevitably reverts to the taxpayer.