Education Reform

School-Based Management Results in Changes in Instruction and Budgeting Gao ID: HEHS-94-135 August 23, 1994

School-based management allows individual schools more control over their budgets and instruction programs to meet the needs of their particular students. Such management initiatives have become common during the past decade, particularly in light of perceptions that district bureaucracies and school boards are unresponsive and impose restrictions that hinder the ability of individual schools to meet their unique needs. GAO examined school-based management initiatives in Dade County, Florida; Edmonton, Alberta, Canada; and Prince William County, Virginia. This report answers the following questions: Under school-based management initiatives, did administrators and teachers change their schools' instructional programs and budgets and, if so, how? What were key similarities and differences in districts' approaches? How were Chapter 1 programs integrated with school-based management initiatives? GAO found that in the three school districts, school-based management fostered innovation but did not lead to net budget savings or better student performance.

GAO found that: (1) although SBM can increase school administrators' and teachers' control over schools and allow them to change instructional programs and tailor budgets to better meet the needs of children, the impact of SBM on student performance is unknown; (2) some schools have difficulty focusing on improving instructional programs and allocating resources because SBM approaches vary; (3) school budgets did not realize net savings as a result of the various SBM adjustments; (4) some school districts have implemented SBM as part of a broader education reform strategy and each district has emphasized providing school services; (5) the key differences in districts' approaches to SBM implementation focused on districts' fund allocation and budget development; (6) SBM could help districts increase control over the Chapter 1 program; and (7) school districts could improve SBM integration if federal legislation is enacted that would decentralize the Chapter 1 program.


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