Dr. Sutirtha Bagchi
Department of Economics
Villanova School of Business
Project Title: The Effects of Varying Partisan and Gender Composition of School Boards on School Budgets
Given my interest in topics of state and local public finance, a research question that has been of interest to me is the extent to which elections affect spending by local governments in the U.S. I am aware of some work that had been conducted on this topic examining the effect of partisan (and gender) composition of mayors on city budgets (e.g. Ferreira and Gyourko (2009) and Gerber and Hopkins (2011)). No paper has however examined such questions in the context of spending on K-12 education – the most significant category of spending by local governments. This is because in the U.S. context, K-12 education is not under the purview of city governments (and mayors) but are the responsibility of school districts (and school boards) which are legally independent entities. This is an important gap in the literature that I am hoping to fill; I intend to write the very first paper examining the effect of partisan composition of school boards on budgets and on other measures that we might care about such as school performance on standardized tests. In other words, does it matter for budgets and student outcomes whether an elected school board is majority-Democratic or majority-Republican? Currently we simply do not know the answer to that question.