School district consolidation making the rounds in several States

They have been pushing school district consolidation in several States as of recently. In Vermont, they actually just pulled off a round of consolidation. Connecticut is pushing for it, but the push back has caused the Governor to back off somewhat. Rhode Island wants to consolidate 52 School Districts down to 4. Illinois is pushing forward with attempts. Efforts have stalled out for the most part in Pennsylvania.

In Arizona, of all places, a bill has passed the House and is currently in the Senate that would require the consolidation of many of the 207 current school districts in that state.

Here in Pennsylvania, we have 500 school districts. Most have have either 1 Sr. High School or 1 Jr./Sr. High School, 0 or 1 Middle Schools, and 1 to 4 elementary schools. A small number of urban districts have multiple high schools. Philadelphia County constitutes 1 district and has many schools of all types.

For the most part, I strongly oppose FORCED consolidation in Pennsylvania, though in one case, I would support forced consolidation, that being the Austin Area School District and its roughly 120 students from K to 12.

There are a few districts where I would support voluntary consolidation, but in most cases, consolidation would likely bring little if any benefits.

In States other than Pennsylvania, I do support forced consolidation in a number of instances. Arizona, like many States, has elementary only districts, high school only districts along with some districts that contain schools from K to 12. I would support forced consolidation to the point where all districts provide K to 12 education. Ideally, each district would, in most cases, consist of 1 High School + the Middle and Elementary Schools feeding to that High School. Some urban districts might encompass multiple high schools.

However, I do not support mega consolidation to the county wide level.

Consolidation can be helpful, but only to a certain point.

In Pennsylvania, I don’t think forced consolidation (such as happened in the 1940’s to the 1960’s) will ever be repeated. Too much grass roots opposition at the rural level and most rural legislators will be unlikely to support it.

Here is an interesting map. It is from 2010, but for the most part it is still fairly accurate, except for Vermont which did recently hold a round of consolidations. Pennsylvania had one consolidation since then, so Pennsylvania should read 500 instead of 501. But for the most part it is still reflective of the current situation.

By county structure, they mean how closely to school districts hew to counties. In Florida, it is 100%, 67 counties, 67 school districts. In Pennsylvania, only 2 county structures exist, Philadelphia County, which constitutes 1 school district and Sullivan County, which also constitutes 1 school district.

Hawaii is the outlier, btw, consisting of 1 statewide school district with no local governance.

I havent read much into this but shouldcreally look into this. I live in illinois where there are 869 districts. Here the too pay for thenhead of abdistrict is 300000$. Plus additional support staff. Here where i live i pay outrageous amounts of prooerry taxes but the kids recieve a good education and support. How will this change things? Is the funding going to get split uo differently? If so why should i pay such high taxes if not going to my local school district?

The common argument in favor of consolidation is that there are fewer administrators to pay. Combine two districts and you eliminate one high salary administrator. And that is true, but only to a point.

If you combine two very small districts with 1,000 to 2,000 students to form a single district with 2,000 to 4,000 students, that concept holds up. But when the combined district reaches and exceeds 5,000 students, all of a sudden, you need extra support staff and assistant administrators to handle the administrative duties and the cost savings really go away beyond about 5,000 students.

But there are other, more insidious motivations for consolidation. In Pennsylvania, school districts run the gamut, the vast majority being rural, some being suburban, some being inner city. Many rural districts also happen to be affluent, such as Lackawanna Trail School District, within the boundaries of which I reside. There are other affluent rural districts in this area, suburban districts of average affluence.

And then there is the Scranton School District. :smile: An academic wasteland and always in financial difficulties, they would love nothing better than to be consolidated with us and get their grubby hands on our tax base. NOT going to ******* happen.

Any school district consolidation would have to ensure that like districts are only consolidated with other like districts and that no consolidation occurs where a predatory urban school district is seeking to exploit a more affluent rural area.

(BTW, before anybody misunderstands and has a ******* conniption fit.) :smile: I am not opposed to statewide funding formulas to provide funding to underfunded districts, but it should be done ONLY via a well considered formula and administered at the State level, and not by means of an urban area sucking directly off one or two of its rural neighbors. Distribute the pain fairly statewide. :smile: