An Examination of School District Superintendents’ Perceptions of Processes and Strategies That Are Successful in Passing a School Bond Referendum in School Districts Not Experiencing Growth in Student Population with a Total Enrollment of 1,000 to 3,500 Students
Gibson, Jerry Elvin
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The purpose of this study was to examine school district superintendents’ perceptions of processes and strategies that are successful in passing a school bond referendum in school districts not growing in student population and have a total student enrollment of 1,000 to 3,500. Specifically, this study gave close examination to school district superintendents’ perceptions of (a) contributing factors that lead to the successful passing of a school bond referendum, (b) successful strategies that school districts utilize to successfully pass school bond referendums, (c) how superintendents’ of school districts perceive they influence the community will to vote in favor of the bond referendum, (d) perceived community barriers when attempting to pass a school bond referendum, and (e) additional challenges faced in the successful passing of a school bond referendum. Research indicated that passing a school bond referendum can determine the direction for a school district for many years to come (Faltys, 2006). Research also stated that a superintendents’ knowledge of the perceptions of the community and the processes that go into a successful bond referendum can lead to success on Election Day (R. Stein, personal communication, June 23, 2014). This study is significant because it will expand the body of knowledge related to the challenges superintendents experience in passing a bond referendum in a district with no student enrollment growth and strategies that contribute to the successful passing of a school bond referendum. viii Participants for this study included seven superintendents from Texas school districts not experiencing student enrollment growth and have an enrollment of 1,000 to 3,500 students. Semi-structured interviews consisted of 14 open-ended and close-ended questions and were conducted, audio recorded, and transcribed. Transcribed data were analyzed using a general inductive approach (Thomas, 2003) to identify emerging themes. Findings and implications related to policy and practice for superintendents and other district and community leaders were discussed and recommendations were provided that might assist public school leaders in the successful passing of school bond referendums. The results from the research questions identified superintendents’ perceptions that contributed to the successful passing of bond referendum and identified six emerging themes: (a) communicate the facts of the bond as often as possible, (b) be transparent to establish trust throughout the bond process, (c) build relationships with stakeholders in the community, (d) build community alliances to assist in strategic communication to voters, (e) solicit the opinion of experts in the bond process, and (f) be visible throughout the bond process. In this phenomenological qualitative study, the researcher used a content analysis to compare the perceptions that superintendents have regarding strategies used in passing a school bond referendum.