A profile of elected county school board members and their motivation for serving

Grady L. Fleming


The local school board has always been an important component of the American school system. The school board is faced with extremely complex problems, and the most qualified individuals are urgently needed to meet these challenges. The purpose of this study was to determine the motivating forces that lead persons in county school districts to seek the position of school board member. By determining the orientation of the board member as trustee or representative, this researcher attempted to identify the personal agenda that prompted the individual to seek the position of school board member. The participants consisted of 200 Mississippi school board members in districts of less than 3500 students. A questionnaire that consisted of demographic information and questions were asked concerning motives for seeking the office of school board member. The data revealed that the typical school board member in this study was a white male, 48 years of age, married, and the highest educational level obtained was high school diploma. The typical school board member considers his role to be that of a trustee in regards to his making school district decisions. A majority of respondents in this study stated that they make decisions based on their own judgment of what is best for the district as a whole, as opposed to making decisions based on contact with individuals or groups within in their local area. This adhering to the role of trustee follows the national trend. Based on these findings it was summarized that the most driving motivation factor for prospective school board members was that of wanting to improve the school district. It was also determined that age, ethnicity, gender, and highest educational level completed did not significantly effect the motivation for school board service.