An analysis of selected principals' priorities regarding budget decentralization in Cumberland County schools, Fayetteville, North Carolina

Michael Walton Clover, Fayetteville State University


This study was designed to determine the flexibility that the principals of Cumberland County Schools in Fayetteville, North Carolina preferred when implementing financial site-based decision-making in their schools. The current budget framework limits the principals to approximately three percent of the total allotment in which independent flexibility is permissible. To complete the research, the fund categories representing areas of educational functions and service in the school system chart of accounts were evaluated. Seventy-two principals in the Cumberland County Schools were asked to indicate by priority their desire to gain flexibility over budget categories from the chart of accounts that have the greatest potential for improving the learning process (50 principals participated). The principals represented elementary, middle, and high schools. A three-phase process of data collection and analysis was incorporated in the study. First, an analytical hierarchy process was used to identify priorities of budget categories by the school principals. This format allowed for multiple criteria variables to be employed. Secondly, a survey instrument was used to obtain the principals' views of financial site-based budgeting. The analysis of this data included determining the frequency with which the categories were selected. Finally, a random sampling of the 50 principals that participated in the two earlier phases were interviewed so that gaps in the data could be identified. The findings indicated that principals in Cumberland County have a strong desire to gain control over the funds they feel will help them improve the learning process. The ABCs (Accountability and High Standards, The Basics and Maximum Local Control) reform movement in North Carolina is a vital step in preparing students for the twenty-first century and the principals agreed that financial flexibility should be an ingredient of this reform. The principals did not indicate a desire to revamp the school finance process, but desired to have more flexibility in the use of funds associated with instructional programs. It was determined that the category of employee salaries and benefits, which was the first choice of their top four priorities, was the one in which they had the least flexibility at the school level. The analysis of the data from the asses interviews revealed that, from this single intervention of budget decentralization believed they could make significant changes in their educational programs without adding additional funds to the educational budget.

Subject Area

School administration

Recommended Citation

Clover, Michael Walton, "An analysis of selected principals' priorities regarding budget decentralization in Cumberland County schools, Fayetteville, North Carolina" (1999). ETD Collection for Fayetteville State University. AAI3027006.