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Dr. James D. Laub, PhD Dissertation Chair, Dr. William Allan Kritsonis, Dissertation Committee
 

Dr. James D. Laub, PhD Dissertation Chair, Dr. William Allan Kritsonis, Dissertation Committee

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Dr. William Allan Kritsonis, PhD Dissertation Committee for Dr. James D. Laub, PhD Program in Educational Leadership, PVAMU, Member of the Texas A&M University System.

Dr. William Allan Kritsonis, PhD Dissertation Committee for Dr. James D. Laub, PhD Program in Educational Leadership, PVAMU, Member of the Texas A&M University System.

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    Dr. James D. Laub, PhD Dissertation Chair, Dr. William Allan Kritsonis, Dissertation Committee Dr. James D. Laub, PhD Dissertation Chair, Dr. William Allan Kritsonis, Dissertation Committee Presentation Transcript

    • An Analysis of the Rural Public School Superintendency A Dissertation Defense by James D. Laub Prairie View A & M University Ben C. DeSpain, Ed.D., Chair William Allan Kritsonis, PhD, Committee Member
    • Dissertation Defense Format
      • Purpose of the Study
      • Limitations of the Study
      • Research Questions
      • Null Hypotheses
      • Method of Procedure
      • Major Findings
      • Review of the Literature
      • Conclusions
      • Recommendations
    • Purpose of the Study
      • The purpose of the study was two-fold:
      • 1. To analyze the characteristics of rural public school districts and rural public school superintendents.
      • 2. To examine the governance challenges and the leadership behaviors that are exhibited by superintendents in rural public school districts in dealing with those governance challenges.
    • Limitations of the Study
      • A potential for differences in the responses may have existed, given the type of survey instruments and methodology (mail-out survey and personal interview) utilized in data collection and gathering.
      • The study may have been restricted by the personal perceptions, beliefs, assumptions, feelings, and experiences of rural public school superintendents.
      • Respondents in the study may be unaware of the definitions of transformational and transactional leadership
      • Economic, regional, and cultural biases may have existed in the data, given the scope of the study is geographically based in the southwestern part of the United States.
    • Quantitative Research Question 1 & Hypothesis
      • What are the differences in identified governance challenges (school board relations, Federal/State mandates, teacher retention, finance, facilities, transportation, curriculum) among superintendents in rural public school districts in 5 selected states?
      • H 01 – There are no statistically significant differences in identified governance challenges (school board relations, Federal/State mandates, teacher retention, finance, facilities, transportation, curriculum) among superintendents in rural public school districts in 5 selected states.
    • Quantitative Research Question 2 & Hypothesis
      • What are the differences in leadership behaviors as identified by the Multifactor Leadership Questionnaire (Form 5X) among superintendents in rural public school districts in 5 selected states?
      • H 02 – There are no statistically significant differences in the leadership behaviors identified by the Multifactor Leadership Questionnaire (Form 5X) among superintendents in rural public school districts in 5 selected states.
    • Quantitative Research Question 3
      • What are the differences in leadership behaviors as identified by the Multifactor Leadership Questionnaire (Form 5X) among superintendents in rural public school districts in 5 selected states when demographic characteristics (age, gender, educational level, years of experience) are considered?
    • Null Hypotheses
      • H 03 – There are no statistically significant differences in the leadership behaviors identified by the Multifactor Leadership Questionnaire (Form 5X) among superintendents in rural public school districts in 5 selected states with respect to age.
      • H 04 – There are no statistically significant differences in the leadership behaviors identified by the Multifactor Leadership Questionnaire (Form 5X) among superintendents in rural public school districts in 5 selected states with respect to gender.
    • Null Hypotheses
      • H 05 – There are no statistically significant differences in the leadership behaviors identified by the Multifactor Leadership Questionnaire (Form 5X) among superintendents in rural public school districts in 5 selected states with respect to educational level.
      • H 06 – There are no statistically significant differences in the leadership behaviors identified by the Multifactor Leadership Questionnaire (Form 5X) among superintendents in rural public school districts in 5 selected states with respect to experience level.
    • Qualitative Research Questions
      • 1. What are the characteristics of rural public school districts?
      • 2. What are the governance challenges facing rural public school superintendents?
      • 3. What are the factors that contribute to superintendent turnover in rural public school districts?
    • Qualitative Research Questions
      • 4. What leadership behaviors are practiced to address the current and future challenges facing rural public school superintendents?
      • 5. What knowledge, skills, and strategies are utilized by rural public school superintendents to address governance challenges?
    • Method of Procedure Population - Quantitative
      • Superintendents from rural public school
      • districts in five southwestern states.
          • Located in a place outside of a metropolitan statistical area that has a population of fewer than 2,500 persons (U.S. Dept. of Education)
          • 1,052 identified superintendents - Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Arkansas, Arizona
          • Stratified random sample - 280 male rural public school superintendents and 118 female rural public school superintendents.
          • 175 responded out of 398 (112 male, 63 female), producing an overall 44% return rate.
    • Method of Procedure Population - Qualitative
      • Qualitative information from the sample population respondents was gathered by personal interview – 26 in person, 4 via telephone
      • Selected by convenience sampling from the target population.
      • Thirty rural public school superintendents were selected and invited to participate
        • ESC Regions 3, 4, 6, 11, and 13
    • Method of Procedure Instrumentation
      • MLQ (Form 5X) Leadership Inventory Instrument
        • Comprised of 36 items measuring nine subscales
        • Uses a 5-point Likert-type scale to measure and identify leadership behaviors
        • Current review of the MLQ is pending for the Seventeenth Mental Measurement Yearbook
        • Review in the Fourteenth Mental Measurement Yearbook yielded that the available research
        • provides evidence that the MLQ consistently measures the constructs of transformational and transformational leadership
    • Method of Procedure
      • Analysis of Variance
          • 5 groups
          • Descriptive, Explanatory Study
          • Survey and Nominal Data
        • One – Way, H 01 and H 02
        • Factorial, H 03 – H 06
        • Independent Variable – Rural Superintendents
        • Dependent Variable – Leadership Behaviors
        • Factors – Demographic Data
        • Data were measured a 95% level of significance, alpha of p < .05,
        • SPSS 12.0
    • Major Findings Quantitative Research Question 1
      • What are the differences in identified governance challenges (school board relations, Federal/State mandates, teacher retention, finance, facilities, transportation, curriculum) among superintendents in rural public school districts in 5 selected states?
      • H 01 – There are no statistically significant differences in identified governance challenges (school board relations, Federal/State mandates, teacher retention, finance, facilities, transportation, curriculum) among superintendents in rural public school districts in 5 selected states.
      • Based on ANOVA analysis, H 01 is not rejected.
    • Major Findings Quantitative Research Question 1
        • School Board Relations: p=.65 ( M =2.37, SD =1.14),
        • Federal/State Mandates: p=.11( M =3.54, SD =1.19),
        • Teacher Retention: p=.06 (M=3.17, SD =1.19),
        • Funding: p=.08 ( M =4.01, SD =1.05)
        • Facilities: p=.05 (M=3.46, SD=1.22)
        • Transportation: p=.20 ( M =3.14, SD =1.19)
        • Curriculum: p=.57( M =3.50, SD =1.11).
        • 5 Point Scale, 1 = never, 2 = sometimes, 3 = often, 4 = very often, 5 = always
    • Review of the Literature Quantitative Research Question 1
      • Political factions among school board members often place a rural public school superintendent in a difficult position. This relationship of conflict and apprehension hinders a superintendent’s ability to effectively lead and implement policy (Kowalski, 2005).
      • School boards must also take care not to micromanage or invade the realm of the superintendent (Hess, 2002).
      • School board members who practice in a dominating or oppressive manner can overtly disrupt an entire school district. As a result, school board members and superintendents often find themselves engaged in power struggles (Mountford, 2004).
      • Conflicts between school boards and superintendents occur over values and interests, heightened levels of political activism, changing power structures, and challenges to traditional purposes and goals of public education (Keedy & Bjork, 2001).
    • Review of the Literature Quantitative Research Question 1
      • Rural public school districts are facing many of the same issues confronting suburban and urban public school districts, the new requirements of NCLB create challenges unique to rural public schools (Reeves, 2003)
      • Small, rural schools are in greater danger of being mislabeled as “in need of improvement” than larger schools due to the volatile nature of school-level reporting from year to year. Because of this, all stakeholders in a rural public school district have begun to feel the pressure and stress that NCLB and high stakes testing brings (Woodrum, 2004).
      • The No Child Left Behind Act is particularly troublesome for rural and small schools. Compared to either suburban or urban public school districts nationwide, rural public school districts tend to have a a higher incidence of out-of-field teaching assignments, (Jimerson, 2004; Mathis, 2003).
    • Review of the Literature Quantitative Research Question 1
      • A shortage of specialty subject teachers is a nationwide problem, especially in rural public school districts. Teacher shortages in rural public school districts affect many subjects and specialty areas including mathematics, science, special education, and foreign languages (Beeson & Strange, 2003; Redfield, Morris & Hammer, 2003).
      • Teachers, especially those with less than 5 years teaching experience, must have continuing education and support. Universities, colleges, and other professional development avenues are not readily accessible to teachers in rural public school districts (Houston, 2001; Redfield, Morris & Hammer, 2003).
      • Major problems confronting rural public schools are the inability to pay appropriate teacher salaries, limited access to social activities, and lack of personal privacy (Harmon, 2001; Reeves, 2003).
    • Review of the Literature Quantitative Research Question 1
      • Budgetary constraints and financial exigencies may be the biggest problems rural public school superintendents face (Glass, Bjork & Brunner, 2000; Mathis, 2003).
      • Challenges plaguing many rural districts include small size, high levels of per-pupil spending, and high concentrations of students from poor families (Imazeki & Reschovsky, 2003).
      • Rural public school districts, with their modest fiscal bases, usually cannot generate sufficient local resources to supplement adequately the state school finance programs the way that more affluent localities can (Harmon, 2001; Lawrence, 2002).
      • Rural areas often have less political power than suburban and urban areas There are significantly fewer outside sources of funding in rural public schools in all categories, such as funding with private grants, Title I monies, and school improvement funds (Jimerson, 2004).
    • Review of the Literature Quantitative Research Question 1
      • There is general agreement that adequate facilities are a huge concern in rural public school districts, many buildings are old and dilapidated (Mathis, 2003).
      • While states spend over 29 billion dollars annually on school facilities, over 50 percent of rural public school districts have at least one major building feature in need of replacement or extensive repair because their school facilities are frequently ignored, neglected, or under-funded. (McColl & Malhoit; Dewees & Earthman, 2000).
      • Longstanding underinvestment in school facilities has left a legacy of inadequate school buildings in many rural public school districts (Dewees & Earthman, 2000)
    • Review of the Literature Quantitative Research Question 1
      • Rural school children and rural public school districts are harmed the most from increased bus time. Due to the geographic location of many rural public school students to their schools, one-way bus rides of up to one hour or longer are commonplace (Kileen & Sipple, 2000; Howley & Howley, 2001).
      • Rural school districts face higher transportation costs that may force them to choose whether to run buses or expand curriculum (Spence, 2000).
      • Transporting students in rural public school districts may be twice as expensive as transporting students in suburban and urban public school districts (Killeen and Sipple, 2000; Lawrence, 2002; Reeves, 2003).
      • Throughout the rural parts of the United States, millions of young Americans are transported to schools, often over treacherous roads in difficult terrain, through challenging weather over long distances (Howley & Smith, 2000).
    • Major Findings Quantitative Research Question 2
      • What are the differences in leadership behaviors as identified by the Multifactor Leadership Questionnaire (Form 5X) among superintendents in rural public school districts in 5 selected states?
      • H 02 – There are no statistically significant differences in the leadership behaviors identified by the Multifactor Leadership Questionnaire (Form 5X) among superintendents in rural public school districts in 5 selected states.
      • Based on ANOVA analysis, p = .68, H 02 is not rejected.
    • Major Findings Quantitative Research Question 2
      • Positive Attributes
      • Individualized Influence (Attributed) ( M =3.16, SD =0.51),
      • Individualized Influence
      • (Behavior) ( M =3.33, SD =0.52),
      • Inspirational Motivation ( M =3.45, SD =0.49),
      • Intellectual Stimulation ( M =3.19, SD =0.55)
      • Individualized Consideration ( M =3.21, SD =0.52)
      • Contingent Reward
      • ( M =3.18, SD =0.57)
      • Negative Attributes
      • Management by Exception - Active ( M =1.74, SD =0.88)
      • Management by Exception – Passive ( M =1.04, SD =0.64)
      • Laissez-Faire ( M =0.56, SD =.53)
      • 5 Point Scale, 1 = not at all, 2 = once in a while, 3 = sometimes, 4 = fairly often, 5 = frequently
    • Major Findings Quantitative Research Question 2
      • Scored leadership behaviors of rural public
      • school superintendents (n=175).
        • 43.4% (n=76) display transactional leadership
        • 56.6% (n=99) display transformational leadership.
    • Review of the Literature Quantitative Research Question 2
      • Throughout the years, our view of what leadership is and who can exercise it has changed considerably. Leadership competencies have remained constant, but our understanding of what it is, how it works, and the ways in which people learn to apply it has shifted (Bennis & Nanus,1985)
      • The essence of educational leadership has been the ability to first understand the theories and concepts and then apply them in real life scenarios (Morrison, Rha, & Hellman, 2003).
      • The status quo of educational administration must be challenged by always allowing for options, possibilities and probabilities when addressing systemic improvement (English, 2003).
    • Review of the Literature Quantitative Research Question 2
      • Transformational leaders motivate subordinates to perform beyond desired expectations by inspiring, stimulating, and developing a higher collective purpose, mission, and vision (Bass, 1985).
      • Transformational leaders take the moral high road – they promote individual consideration, intellectual stimulation, personal motivation and inspiration, and high ethical standards. (Avolio & Yammarino (2002)
      • Transformational leaders emphasize emotions, values and endeavor to make events meaningful for subordinates (Yukl, 1999).
      • Transformational leaders seek new ways of collaboration, seek opportunities in the face of risk, and prefer effective answers to efficient answers (Lowe & Galen-Kroeck, 1996).
    • Review of the Literature Quantitative Research Question 2
      • Transactional leadership is an exchange-based form of leadership in which “leaders approach followers with an eye to exchanging one thing for another” (p. 4). A “quid pro quo” correlation usually exists in this relationship. (Burns, 1978)
      • Transactional leaders are motivated by what is easily identifiable and measurable. Issues, problems, and concerns that upset the “status quo” of the organization are reactionary factors for transactional leaders (Bass, 1998).
      • Transactional leaders define expectations and promote performance to achieve those expectations – they are associated with constructive and corrective transactions (Bass and Avolio, 2004).
    • Major Findings Quantitative Research Question 3
      • What are the differences in leadership behaviors as identified by the Multifactor Leadership Questionnaire (Form 5X) among superintendents in rural public school districts in 5 selected states when demographic characteristics (age, gender, educational level, years of experience) are considered?
      • H 03 – There are no statistically significant differences in the leadership behaviors identified by the Multifactor Leadership Questionnaire (Form 5X) among superintendents in rural public school districts in 5 selected states with respect to age.
      • H 04 – with respect to gender, H 05 – with respect to education H 06 – with respect to years of experience
      • H 03 is not rejected, p=.23 H 04 is not rejected, p=.23
      • H 05 is not rejected, p=.13 H 06 is not rejected, p=.80
    • Major Findings Quantitative Research Question 3
      • H 03 – Age (n=175)
        • Transactional leaders (n=76)
          • 31 – 40 age group – 13.2% (n=10)
          • 41 – 50 age group - 34.2% (n=26)
          • 50+ age group – 52.6% (n=40)
        • Transformational leaders (n=99)
          • 31 – 40 age group -16.2% (n=16)
          • 41 – 50 age group – 34.3% (n=34)
          • 50+ age group – 49.4% (n=49)
    • Major Findings Quantitative Research Question 3
      • H 04 – Gender (n=175)
      • Male - 64% (n=112)
      • Female - 36% (n=63)
      • Transactional leaders (n=76)
        • Male – 63.1% (n=48)
        • Female – 36.9% (n=28)
      • Transformational leaders (n=99)
        • Male – 64.6% (n=64)
        • Female – 35.4% (n=35)
    • Major Findings Quantitative Research Question 3
      • H 05 - Educational Level (n=175)
      • Bachelors degree - 1.1% (n=2)
      • Masters degree - 85.7% (n=150)
      • Doctoral degree - 13.1% (n=23)
      • Transactional leaders (n=76)
        • Bachelors degree – 2.6% (n=2)
        • Masters degree – 78.9% (n=60)
        • Doctoral degree - 18.5% (n=14)
      • Transformational leaders (n=99)
        • Bachelors degree - 0% (n=0)
        • Masters degree – 90.9% (n=90)
        • Doctoral degree - 9.1% (n=9)
    • Major Findings Quantitative Research Question 3
      • H 06 - Years of Experience (n=175)
      • 1 – 3 Years – 31.4% (n=55)
      • 4 – 6 Years - 28.6% (n=50)
      • 7 – 9 Years - 15.4% (n=27)
      • 10+ Years – 24.6% (n=43)
      • Transactional leaders (n=76)
        • 1 – 3 Years - 31% (n=29)
        • 4 – 6 Years - 28.6% (n=22)
        • 7 – 9 Years - 15.4% (n=7)
        • 10+ Years – 24.6% (n=18)
      • Transformational leaders (n=99)
        • 1 – 3 Years – 26.2% (n=26)
        • 4 – 6 Years - 28..2% (n=28)
        • 7 – 9 Years - 20.2% (n=20)
        • 10+ Years – 25.4% (n=25)
    • Major Findings Qualitative Research Question 1
      • What are the characteristics of rural public school districts?
        • Rural communities are trying to establish an identity. The local school often serves as the focal point for a majority of the community.
        • Conservative, family oriented values lay the foundation for the social structure in rural communities. Even in the smallest of rural communities church buildings exist. Nothing gets scheduled on a Wednesday night – Baptists are in mid-week services and Catholics are in CCD classes.
        • You must relate to the community and you must fit into their world. I can drive a double cab, dually pickup worth $50,000 and nobody cares, but let me drive a used Lexus costing $30,000 and the whole community is in uproar.
    • Major Findings Qualitative Research Question 1
      • It is not uncommon to have parents picking up their children in pickup trucks with hay or livestock trailers in tow. I have even had semi truck. I have called parents on their cell phones to discuss students. Sometimes they are at home watching tv, sometimes they are on the way to “work” cows sometimes they are on a tractor shredding a pasture. Nothing surprises you when you work in a rural district.
      • In general, rural public school districts are like private or parochial schools in that the teachers, staff members, parents and community members put forth extra effort and are extremely dedicated to their school, they go above and beyond to make sure that their children have the best education possible by doing whatever it takes.
    • Major Findings Qualitative Research Question 1
      • Student athletes are more likely to participate in all the sports offered in rural public schools. Rural communities rally around and show tremendous support for extracurricular activities, often times more so than academic activities.
      • For a cross country track meet we submitted a bill for two hog callers and a bag of feed cubes. The cross country route went behind the high school and into a pasture. The prior week, the farmer had shot two wild hogs in the pasture. The hog callers were used by the coaches at the north side of the woods to keep the hogs out of the pasture. The bag of feed cubes was used to keep the cows penned up and out of the way of the runners.
    • Review of the Literature Qualitative Research Question 1
      • Rural public school districts have unique traits and characteristics that distinguish them from suburban and urban public school districts. Among them are geographic isolation, small populations, and declining enrollment (Beeson & Strange, 2003; Reeves, 2003).
      • Rural communities that are not in relatively close proximity to larger communities tend to have higher poverty rates and provide fewer occupational, social, and educational opportunities for their students. However, the aesthetic values and quality of life afforded by rural communities can outweigh any negative connotations (Kannapel & Young, 1999).
      • Rural schools have unique characteristics that should be valued. (McLaughlin, Hernandez and Caron, 2005). Many see the role of rural schools as serving the local community, as the school should both reflect and shape the community (Woodrum, 2004).
      • A strong sense of kinship normally permeates throughout the rural school community, relationships and connections to other people are highly valued (Howley & Howley, 2006; Kannapel & DeYoung, 1999).
      • .
    • Major Findings Qualitative Research Question 2
      • What are the governance challenges facing rural public school superintendents?
        • In my district the majority of the teachers were born and reared in the community, or have a spouse or family members that reside in the community that is why they teach in that community.
        • I have to find reasons, besides monetary considerations to attract teachers, many times the allure of a “lifelong” job is the best selling point that I have. Other than that, what can I offer to a young person fresh out of college, as no social activities or opportunities are readily available?
    • Major Findings Qualitative Research Question 2
        • My district has lost almost 100 students over the past three years. As a result, we lost nearly $ 500,000 in funding and have had to lay-off teachers and cut the budget. I used to have two principals, now I only have one and I have to fulfill those duties. I only have one phys. ed. teacher for K-12 and many of my teachers have multi-grade and multi-content areas to teach.
        • We are a Chapter 41 school district and send a lot of money back to the state due to Robin Hood. Our students have parents that are blue collar workers and my district has over a 80% free and state – it is the weekenders and summer crowds that own this property and make us a Chapter 41district. Most of them do not have school age children, or their children attend school in other districts. Our local students do not reap any of the benefits.
    • Major Findings Qualitative Research Question 2
      • Rural public school districts frequently face a shortage of adequate facilities. Rural public school districts have to take a band-aid approach and fix the immediate problems at hand, sometimes fixing one small building at a time
      • Many campuses in rural school district share facilities – cafeterias, libraries, gymnasiums, and classrooms. Additionally, in many rural communities, private schools run by churches share facilities with public schools. In some instances, school facilities also serve as meeting places for local civic organizations and groups. It’s their money, their schools, and their kids; they can do what they want.
    • Major Findings Qualitative Research Question 2
      • Many rural public school districts were formed due to the consolidation of several smaller, community based schools. As a result, some rural schools districts have campuses located in different parts of the community. Elementary students may be bused several miles to one campus, junior high students may be bused several miles to another campus, and high school students may be bused several miles to yet another campus.
      • I have to drive 84 miles, one-way, to make a complete visit to all my campuses.” Four of the rural public school districts the served students from kindergarten through 8th grade. These rural public school districts had to bus their secondary students to another public school district several miles away.
      • Teachers and coaches are hired to drive bus routes, as no one else in the community is available to do so. Superintendents do not need a commercial license, but also drive school busses.
    • Major Findings Qualitative Research Question 2
      • All these mandates are a load of “horse manure”, we should be about educating children, instead of worrying about red tape, filling out papers and forms and trying to meet impossible and realistic expectations. I spend way too much time on this, as I have no one else in the district to delegate this to.
      • Seeing how most representatives in legislative bodies are elected from urban and suburban areas, is it any wonder why rural areas get left behind in the process, what do they expect us to do, work miracles?
    • Review of the Literature Qualitative Research Question 2
      • Rural public schools in America face an array of problems every bit as daunting and intractable as those confronting suburban and urban public schools. Conversely, reform efforts undertaken in suburban and urban public schools may not necessarily be germane to rural public school districts (Bauch, 2001; Redfield, Morris and Hammer, 2003)
      • Challenges encountered by rural public school superintendents include: school board relations; federal/state mandates; recruiting and retaining quality teachers; school finance; inadequate school facilities; transportation; and curriculum. (Beeson and Strange, 2003; Johnson & Strange, 2005))
      • Not only are rural public schools faced with trying to piece together and capitalize on the remnants of their remaining uniqueness, but they must do so under a barrage of ongoing reforms seeking to integrate rural public schools into the national system (Howley, 2004; Woodrum, 2004).
      • Funding sources and academic reward structures do not put much value on rural education research; it is not considered a prestigious research endeavor Rural public school districts typically have sparse access to rigorous, unbiased and affordable research (Kannapel & DeYoung, 1999; Stark, 2005).
    • Major Findings Qualitative Research Question 3
      • What are the factors that contribute to superintendent turnover in rural public school districts?
        • Board members like to dwell on minute details and activities that are not related to student success and curriculum – dealing with board members can be as much fun as jumping over a fence and eating a handful of dirt.
    • Major Findings Qualitative Research Question 3
      • The only requirements to serve as a board member is residence within the district and being of legal voting age, other than that the field is wide open – it is scary to think that someone who never finished the 8th grade and who has had a child that did not make varsity athletics could actually be in “charge” of the district.
      • Learn to count to seven, in a perfect world you would like to have that many board members on your side, but, remember that the magic number is four.
      • Do not plan to stay too long or outstay your welcome, be thankful for the opportunity – you are the boss and final authority, but remember you are also the easiest to fire.
    • Major Findings Qualitative Research Question 3
      • You must be extremely conscientious in making decisions as people may be watching for inconsistencies in your words and actions they can be bothersome.
      • Regardless if issues are school related or not, rural superintendents are the “county” official, they are everything to everybody, as such you must act accordingly.
      • Often times more school business gets conducted over coffee at the local feed store and in informal town meetings than in the board room.
      • Following the chain of command is often difficult for some rural community members and stakeholders, as when they have a “problem” they want to go directly to the superintendent or the board because they demand immediate results.”
    • Review of the Literature Qualitative Research Question 3
      • Micromanagement interferes with the superintendent’s ability to operate the district and will, more than likely, shorten the superintendent’s tenure (Caruso, 2005). School board members and superintendents often find themselves engaged in power struggles (Mountford, 2004). Political factions among school board members often place a rural public school superintendent in a difficult position (Kowalski, 2005).
      • Many propose that the most important function of the rural school board is the selection of the superintendent (Czubaj, 2002; Johnson & Howley, 2001). The power to hire and fire the rural public school superintendent gives the rural school board indirect control as to what transpires in the district (Land, 2002).
      • Rural public school superintendents face a variety of challenges, shoulder enormous responsibilities, and wear many different hats, from instructional leader, resource manager, to politician and consensus builder. Rural public school superintendents must be capable and willing to address the educational needs of his/her school districts and any problems that may arise from these needs (Kowalski, 2005)
      • The superintendency, now perhaps more than ever, is a political position where conflict has increased exponentially. (Keedy & Bjork, 2001)
    • Major Findings Qualitative Research Question 4
      • What leadership behaviors are practiced to address the current and future challenges facing rural public school superintendents?
        • Develop a positive relationship with the school board, keep them well informed and emphasize board training. The best friend of a superintendent is a well informed school board.
        • It is important to establish a high level of trust with the school board.
        • Base all decisions on one question - Is it good for kids?
        • You must listen to all stakeholders and be objective, as there are two sides to every story. More times than not, somewhere in between lies the truth. You must have a thick skin and not take things personally.
    • Major Findings Qualitative Research Question 4
        • A rural public school superintendent must look at the long term, has to offer options, be flexible, and learn to give and take. Open communication is the best way to build trust and rapport with all stakeholders. Once this is established, ideas for improvement can be introduced and may have a better chance of being accepted and implemented.
    • Major Findings Qualitative Research Question 4
      • In one way, direct communication with all stakeholders allows the superintendent to have a better understanding of daily district operations, get to know all of the stakeholders better and can then begin the process of improving the district.
    • Review of the Literature Qualitative Research Question 4
      • Superintendents as true professionals who, above all else, are educational scholars capable and willing to address the educational needs of his/her school districts and any problems that may arise from these needs (Kowalski, 2003).
      • First and foremost, student success and achievement should capture the rural school superintendent’s notice; they must be institutional visionaries (King, 2002; Owen & Ovando, 2000).
      • Leadership practice takes form in the interaction between leaders and followers; leaders act in situations that are defined by subordinates’ actions (Spillane, 2005).
      • Educational administrators must be open and consider all claims and theories, they need not necessarily replace existing theories but challenge existing boundaries (English, 2003).
    • Major Findings Qualitative Research Question 5
      • What knowledge, skills, and strategies are utilized by rural public school superintendents to address governance challenges?
        • A rural public school superintendent must look at the long term, has to offer options, be flexible, and learn to give and take. Open communication is the best way to build trust and rapport with all stakeholders. Once this is established, ideas for improvement can be introduced and may have a better chance of being accepted and implemented.
    • Major Findings Qualitative Research Question 5
      • School districts are inanimate objects that do not have feelings or show emotions. On the other hand, people whom you offend will never forget, remember all it takes is one “oh-darn” to wipe out a hundred “atta-boys”.
      • Be willing to communicate unpopular information by being truthful, people are going to throw rocks, just be careful not to hand them the rocks.
    • Major Findings Qualitative Research Question 5
      • When I became a superintendent my predecessor left me three envelopes. I was given instructions to open them when confronted with serious problems by board members. I was to open the first letter upon encountering the first serious problem, to open the second letter upon encountering the second serious problem and to open the last letter upon encountering the third serious problem. Upon encountering my first problem I opened the letter - it said to blame the previous superintendent. Upon encountering the second serious problem I opened the letter - it said to be patient and to remember that the board member is always right. Upon encountering the third serious problem I opened the letter – it said to write a resignation and to leave three envelopes for my replacement.
    • Review of the Literature Qualitative Research Question 5
      • With practice, time, skill proficiency, and developing wisdom superintendents in any school setting can be instrumental change agents for the betterment of schools (Israel & Kasper 2004)
      • A overabundance of intoxicating visions and noble intentions exist, many leaders have rich and deeply textured agendas, but without communications neither will come to fruition. Trust is the lubricant that makes it possible for organizations to work (Bennis & Nanus, 1985).
      • Developing trust by empowering subordinates to demonstrate their abilities, will challenge subordinates to develop new abilities and seek unanticipated challenges (Bass & Avolio, 1994).
      • Decision-making should fit the context, educational administrators should not take a standard cookie cutter approach to decision-making (English, 2003).
    • Conclusions
      • Conclusion 1 : Governance challenges and problems have a direct impact on a rural public school superintendents’ job performance and job stability.
      • Conclusion 2 : The scope and function of a rural public school superintendents’ responsibilities and duties appear to be unique, and may not reflect the scope and function of suburban and urban public school superintendents responsibilities and duties.
    • Conclusions
      • Conclusion 3 : Although rural public school superintendents in the study were identified as either transformational or transactional leaders, in would appear that rural public school superintendents display a variety of leadership behaviors.
      • Conclusion 4 : Although rural public school superintendents are identified as being either transformational or transactional leaders, overall these superintendents display positive leadership attributes far more frequently than negative attributes.
    • Conclusions
      • Conclusion 5: Demographics do not have a significant impact in regards to leadership tendencies and attributes displayed by rural public school superintendents.
    • Recommendations
      • Duplication of the study including a larger geographical area and larger population of rural public school superintendents.
      • Comparing and contrasting specific governance challenges and problems germane to urban, suburban, and rural public school districts and superintendents.
    • Recommendations
      • Investigation of alternative management theories to help identify leadership strategies for rural public school superintendents.
      • Study of the efficacy of educational preparation programs for aspiring rural public school superintendents.
      • In-depth analysis of rural public school superintendent demographics.