If the Unions and I Agree, It Must Be Obvious

An article in the latest issue of New York Teacher, the organ of the New York State United Teachers, asks the question, “Does consolidation of small districts make sense?” I have been asking that question since 1999 (and if you count the Captain Obvious cartoons in the archives, a lot more times in the last couple of months), and the conclusion I reached coincides with that of just about everyone else who has studied the issue: It might make sense, but it probably won’t save any money.

NYSUT, to its credit, reached the same conclusion.

The bottom line in the consolidation discussion, says NYSUT’s [Executive Vice President Alan] Lubin, is the bottom line itself. 

“It’s been our experience that consolidations are rare because many times the savings just aren’t there,” he said.

According to a 2005 report from the National Rural Education Association, the educational and financial results of state-mandated school district consolidations “do not meet legislated expectations.” An association task force also determined that smaller districts have higher student achievement.

In a 2004 report, the Goldwater Institute in Phoenix, Ariz., found that consolidation increases administrative costs and class size and reduces student achievement.