Advantages to consolidating school districts flip card dating

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Just ask voters in Valdosta, Ga., who in November 2011, by nearly a 4-to-1 ratio, rejected a ballot initiative that would have merged the Valdosta City and Lowndes County school districts.

The Valdosta Chamber of Commerce backed the proposed school merger and the local newspaper endorsed it, arguing uniting the two school systems would improve efficiency and the quality of education.

Over the course of the last century the number of public school districts in the Untied States dropped from 117,108 in 1939 to just 13,629 in 2009, a decrease of nearly 90 percent, according to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES).

Proponents of district consolidation most often cite cost savings associated with economies of scale as the driving factor. And what happens to any savings when you add educational technology into the mix?

"Especially at the beginning of the school consolidation era, which would be about 1920," said Marty Strange, a professor at Green Mountain College and former policy director at the Rural School and Community Trust (RSCT), "it was about improving schools by quite literally taking the schools out of the hands of non-professional bumpkins who were on the school boards and ran them and putting professional educators in charge." By increasing school size, districts would be able to hire more professional teachers and administrators, while also offering more specialized curriculum, particularly at the high school level.

"On the surface most of the arguments are not economic," Strange said.

for consolidation, which merges schools or districts and centralizes their management, rest primarily on two presumed benefits: (1) fiscal efficiency and (2) higher educational quality.

While state-level consolidation proposals may serve a public ..Nebraska districts are nested like little islands within the confines of other ...At the opposite extreme, 14 states have more than 300 public school districts.Legislatures in many states are considering whether merging smaller school districts would be a cost-effective way to cut costly overhead expenses and improve academic services.although with a noble purpose, this was met with strong opposition from parents and educators, leaving many representatives facing a will also help improve enrollment and minimize financial constraints, both of which are basic problems in fragmented school districts.

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