Rawlings School of Divinity


Doctor of Education (EdD)


John Cartwright


Phenomenology, Debt, K-12 School, Management


Christianity | Education | Educational Leadership | Religion


The purpose of this phenomenological study was to inductively explore and understand how school leadership’s views on institutional debt impacted its use at Christian kindergarten-twelfth grade (K-12) schools in the Mid-America Region of the Association of Christian Schools International (MAR-ACSI). Institutional debt was generally defined as large and reoccurring expenses such as mortgages for school buildings. The qualitative research theory guiding this study was transcendental phenomenological reduction articulated by Clark Moustakas (1994) in his Phenomenological Research Methods. The Moustakas model provided an effective way to explore the gap in the literature found about how institutional debt impacted the planning and implementation processes of school principals. This study utilized twenty-five interview questions based on five research questions. This researcher first field-tested and then interviewed ten participants purposively selected from the research population. These participants possessed wide ranging but consistent opinions about the use and misuse of institutional debt that revealed a sufficiency and saturation of data. Throughout the process this researcher sought to insure the trustworthiness of his research without necessarily mandating the transferability of his findings. Based on an inductive analysis of their data transcripts this researcher concluded that, theologically and theoretically, participants generally viewed the use of long-term institutional debt with a mixture of practical restraint and profound regret. Further research could include expanding the research population to the entire Association of Christian Schools International.