Date of Award
Doctor of Education (EdD)
Department of Educational Administration and Foundations: Educational Administration
This study investigated how two school districts within the same community reacted to the closure of an electric generating power plant that provided approximately 45% of each district's property tax revenue.
The districts under study were chosen for two reasons: (1) They were both affected by the closure of the power plant, and (2) They exemplify the peculiar nature of Illinois public schools. Even though both districts exist in the same relatively small town and serve the same families throughout their schooling, they remain separate, yet parallel, entities.
The two districts are parallel in that the power plant was responsible for over 45% of the overall revenue collected by each district. The two districts are also parallel because a family that has a child in the 5th grade and the 9th grade would have two children in two different school districts. That family pays property taxes to two different school districts that are overseen by two different school boards and superintendents. These separate school boards and superintendents reacted in a similar, but not identical, fashion.
Initially, the superintendents that led each district at the time of the closure were interviewed. These individuals then provided names of others that were involved in the decision-making process at that time. In total, four high school board members were interviewed along with the superintendent. In regard to the elementary district, three board members and the district's business manager were interviewed along with the superintendent.
Field notes and documents were analyzed using qualitative research methods, which resulted in a multi-step analysis of the data. All resulting information was reviewed with the dissertation chair and recommendations were made which resulted in the emerging themes of the study.
The findings of this study included the following:
1. Neither district made an effort to unite the community to further the educational agenda of each district, via the retrenchment process.
2. Both districts attempted to avoid conflict with the community and with the internal public of each organization. These avoidance behaviors contributed to the decision-making during the retrenchment process.
3. The elementary district failed to halt its practice of borrowing to partially fund its regular programs. This resulted in far greater financial problems once the power plant closed.
4. Both boards complained that the community was not supportive of education, yet, in the end, it appears that the boards saved athletic programs at the expense of academic programs.
Asplund, John Andrew, "Financial Retrenchment: a Phenomenological Study of Two Public School Districts in One Community" (2013). Theses and Dissertations. 19.