Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership


Educational Leadership

First Committee Member

Theresa Jordan, Chair

Second Committee Member

Robert S. McCord

Third Committee Member

Michael S. Robison

Graduate Faculty Representative

Ralph E. Reynolds

Number of Pages



This study implemented a two phase concurrent mixed-methods design to generate a greater understanding of how elementary schools with increased autonomy in fiscal decision making allocated their money, how their site-based decisions affected allocative efficiency, and how increased autonomy affected site-based decision making when compared with a set of matched control schools within a large urban district.

Phase I compared school site expenditure patterns of site-based empowered schools to demographically matched control schools and to all elementary schools within a large urban district over four years, 2004-05, 2005-06, 2006-07, and 2007-08. Expenditure data were collected from the In$ite data base using the categories set by Cooper‟s and Lybrand‟s Finance Analysis Model: a model that uses the downward accounting extension. Also explored was the relationship between fiscal decision making and allocative efficiency through the use of a data envelopment analysis (DEA) which used multiple outputs against multiple inputs to compare levels of efficiency among the four, site-based empowered schools and demographically matched control schools. Phase II consisted of a qualitative analysis of interview questions answered by empowerment and control school principals.

If how dollars are spent is a critical factor in maximizing student outcomes, then a critical question becomes „who should make those decisions?‟. An empowerment school concept in a large urban district in the southwest was developed with the belief that involving those closest to the student in making decisions about the fiscal allocation of resources can improve student outcomes. However, the concept of making decisions closest to the client to affect productivity outcomes can only be effective if schools allocate money toward variables that are known to improve outcomes.

By looking at schools in a large urban school district, this study provides insight into how schools deemed "empowerment" and "control" allocated their dollars, how site-based decision making affects efficiency, and the link between school improvement efforts and fiscal decisions.

This study revealed there was little difference in how empowerment schools spent their money when compared with demographically matched control schools and the total number of elementary schools within the district. The empowerment and control schools both showed decreased efficiency when compared with themselves during base line years (2005 and 2006) and with all elementary schools in the district during the study years (2007 and 2008).

In terms of site-level decision making, empowerment schools expressed a greater sense of empowerment than did control schools. However, being a site-based empowered school did not ensure that they would make decisions that improved efficiency. While these site-based schools were more aware of issues at the site level, principals did not show awareness of the growing body of literature that connects school based fiscal allocation decisions to educational outcomes.


Data envelopment analysis; Efficiency; Empowerment; Equity and adequacy; Public school finance; Public schools – Finance; Site based management; School-based management


Education | Educational Administration and Supervision | Elementary and Middle and Secondary Education Administration

File Format


Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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