Site-based Management/Decision-Making: Everything You Need to Know

This has to do with the process through which all school-related decisions are taken at the school level with contribution from all interested stakeholders. The decision-making is usually handled by parties who are based in the school, so they are usually more effective at accurately representing the actual needs of the school.

The origin of site-based management can be traced to the last half of the 20th century, when an industrial model flaunting the advantages of empowering factory workers to modify their roles gained extensive popularity and credibility. Encouraged by the high quality and economic success attained by Japanese car manufacturers that gave factory workers better autonomy to manage their own teams, several U.S. businesses and factories gave their employees a bigger role in their job-related decision-making. When this industrial model, which was later embraced by businesses too, was transplanted into schools, the approach was called school-based or site-based management.

For site-based management to work well, schools must allot adequate time to learn skills like decision-making. They should also set aside enough time for the ongoing meetings attended by all stakeholders to accomplish effective decision-making by agreement rather than fiat.

Some hallmarks of efficient site-based management are:

·         Decision-makers at the school site advocate and execute changes that bring positive transformation to teaching and learning.

·         Site-based decision-makers exercise power over staffing, budget, and curriculum.

·         Power sharing permeates the school, along with its decision-making group(s).

·         There’s school-wide and continuous professional development.

·         All information is comprehensively distributed throughout the school and community. Several schools and districts using site-based management put up websites loaded with information and news related to almost anything and everything any person would ever want to know about them.

·         The principal is capable of simultaneously leading and sharing responsibility and power.

Implementation of site-based management has its own share of challenges. School systems often fail to decide how best to bring changes to shift from a more centralized approach to a decentralized way of work. Not knowing the limits of their autonomy is another problem that can adversely affect a team’s effectiveness. 

It’s the responsibility of principals to help people develop the necessary skills to become self-directing instead of telling them what to do at every step of the process. Additionally, instead of accountability being limited to the principals and superintendent involved in site-based management, it should cover the entire decision-making group, usually made of teachers, parents, and other representatives of the community.

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