School (based) management is a framework that is gaining popularity with an impressive speed. Under this framework, the power is transferred from district authorities to individual schools in order to improve the quality of teaching and decision making. It is believed that enabling people who are closer to students to adopt crucial decisions leads to considering students’ immediate and the most pressing needs.
In SBM the power of decision making is received by school principals, teachers, parents, alumni and community members. As key stakeholders take part in school management, its accountability is significantly improved. However, the school is not completely independent and operates under certain rules and norms. The school is publicly accountable for its productivity and has its accounts inspected by an independent auditing company.
As SBM is implemented, a former distribution of roles is no longer valid. Instead of telling what to do, district authorities help to accomplish what was decided by schools independently. As a rule, the highest decision-making authority in a school is a council including teachers, parents and community representatives. In most cases, the principal gains no control over the size and composition of the council.
As any other innovation, SBM is based on several principles, namely: transparency, student orientation, accountability and participation in decision-making.
All those who function as school managers are to perform certain functions. They define the strategies for school development, set goal priorities, allocate assets, make sure that main goals of the school are being pursued, make decisions about the personnel (appointments and dismissals, appraisals), adopt budgets and allocate funds, make decisions about the curriculum and its compliance with governmental requirements, establish relations with other schools and institutions.
Financial management is one of the most important responsibilities of school managers. They must arrange adherence to budget limits and define financial strategies, allocating the resources in the most appropriate way. Their duty is to review income and expenses on a regular basis and thus make sure that students’ needs are satisfied without exceeding the budget. Also, they are responsible for choosing and appointing auditors.
The experience proves that the most successful implementation of SBM is arranged in schools where new actors in the decision-making area are not only given power, but also provided support for their new roles. Many schools are already operating under the SBM management framework while others are only struggling to implement it. In any case, SBM is a step towards higher efficiency of education and better satisfaction of students’ needs. It reflects general tendencies of decentralization of power and serves as a tool to improve the quality of schooling. There are issues to overcome, no doubt, but the game is worth the candles, and implementation of SBM throughout the world is not only a reasonable, but also a necessary measure.