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Abstract

School boards are very powerful entities whose decisions have a significant impact on millions of students in the United States. Since the formation of the first local school boards in Massachusetts in the late 1700s, these groups of local officials have directed public education in their communities (Land, 2000). Throughout the nineteenth century, unpaid members of school boards managed both the daily operations of local schools districts and created policy. In the first half of the twentieth century, however, the increasing school population meant increased responsibilities for school board members as they oversaw increasingly larger and more complex institutions. The management of district infrastructure including facilities, transportation, food, etc. as well as responding to state legislation such as compulsory attendance laws slowly changed the model of school board governance. At first, professional managers (superintendents) were hired to oversee and manage the district's operations and school board members still participated in daily operations through committee oversight. In the latter half of the twentieth century, as both districts and responsibilities grew, increasing numbers of full-time personnel were hired to carry out the daily business of school districts (Gates, 2013; Halik, 2012; Sell, 2005).

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