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.