Serving on local school boards: A New York State study on relationships, motivation, and purpose
This study analyzed the motivations and purposes of board members in running for election throughout the state of New York using the ADVICE© survey which was administered to a random sample of New York State School Board Members about their personal and district demographics, purpose and motivation, relationships, and levels of satisfaction, efficacy, and commitment.
The results shed light on the importance of relationships among board members and their key educational constituents as well as their level of contentment with the district superintendent, teachers union, district administrators, other board members, board leadership, and community members.
The results indicate that the typical board member was a white male, between ages 50 and 59, earned more than $75,000 per year, and held at least a Masters Degree. They have lived within their communities for an extended period of time and most of them currently have children attending the district they serve. Nearly seventy-five percent of respondents spend at least six hours per week working in their capacity as a school board member. Forty-three percent of the respondents served in districts with a student population larger than 8000.
The results indicate that a number of differences existed among respondents for the following variables: gender, age, income, and educational level. Female board members placed more emphasis on administrative leadership than male board members. Older board members placed more value on school finance and budgeting than younger members. However, younger board members placed more value on policy issues than older members. Less affluent board member were more likely to run for election for personal/political reasons than more affluent board members. More educated board members placed a greater emphasis on creating/modifying policy than less educated board members.
The study also shed light on board members' levels of satisfaction, efficacy, and job commitment. Members who have strong relationships with their superintendent, board leadership, other board members, and the teacher union, and believe that they represent the needs of the community tend to perceive themselves as more efficacious. Healthier relationships between members and their educational constituents appear to lead to greater levels of satisfaction, efficacy, and commitment.