Date of Award

Spring 5-2-2023

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Educational Policy Studies

First Advisor

Nicholas Sauers

Second Advisor

Will Rumbaugh

Third Advisor

Robert Hendrick


Income and wealth inequality leads to student achievement gaps that are often clearly aligned to race. Many school districts are now seeking ways to close student achievement gaps through policies and practices focused on restoring equity and social justice. One way that districts can reallocate financial resources through the lens of equity is through student-weighted funding formulas (SWFF). This study seeks to understand the perceptions of school-based principals in a large, urban school district in the Southeastern United States with a structural and embedded focus on equity and with an SWFF and the potential impacts of these perceptions on their decision-making with site-based resource allocations. A qualitative case-study methodology serves as the process for answering two research questions that ask to what extent 1) principals perceive an impact of a district-level SWFF on their decision-making process for school-based budget development and, 2) principals demonstrate equitable thinking and planning through the utilization of budgeted dollars when building site-based budgets. Data was collected through semi-structured interviews with eight elementary school principals selected through a purposive sampling process. Data were analyzed using Stake’s categorical aggregation and pattern identification using both NVivo and Microsoft Excel. Three themes emerged from the analysis of interview data: principals reported perceiving increased empowerment in an expanded role, they perceived feeling an increase in responsibility for the finances of their schools, and they experienced changes to their school budgets, with both positive and negative implications because of the new SWFF.


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