Date of Award

Spring 2015

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational Studies

First Advisor

William McInerney

Committee Chair

William McInerney

Committee Member 1

Deborah Bennett

Committee Member 2

John Hill

Committee Member 3

Marilyn Hirth


The purpose of this qualitative study was to explore the process of school district collaboration that ensued in four mostly rural school districts in Indiana, following a study conducted by an external university group. The purpose of the study was to explore and present ways that the school districts could work together to share resources. The superintendent and school board members for each participating school district commissioned the study and led the subsequent collaboration process. The university study investigated ways that the four districts could cooperate to better serve students, including considering consolidation if compelling reasons were found indicating that the four school districts should consolidate. This study examines the collaboration efforts between these four school districts, which have been continuing from the time when the study was completed by the external group. Since the time that the study was conducted two new superintendents have been appointed. They have embraced this collaboration, so that even though some of the actors have changed, the collaboration process continues.^ The questions that guided this research were: 1) What are some of the positive results of the collaboration efforts occurring today? 2) What are some of the negative results of the collaboration efforts occurring today? 3) How has each school district since the original study encouraged collaboration efforts with the other districts? 4) How has each school board encouraged or discouraged collaboration efforts from the original study? 5) How has the community encouraged or discouraged collaboration efforts stemming from the original study? 6) Is collaboration across small school districts a solution to the issues of declining enrollments and budget reductions?^ The questions were addressed by interviewing the current superintendents to understand how the original study and the ensuing collaboration process have impacted their school districts. The interviews indicate that the superintendents like working together and meet regularly to discuss and find ways to better share services and enhance student success and save money within their school budget. They have extended the collaboration process to include opportunities for principals to meet on their own to discuss how to share resources. Further, the process has been extended so that teachers are involved in collaborating as well. The findings from this study suggest that while school district collaboration is unlikely to save enough money to offset steep enrollment declines, there are numerous benefits that accrue from working together on issues of common concern. Other school districts will gain from the collaboration efforts and will help better serve their students while saving some money for their districts.

Included in

Education Commons