Should schools consolidate to save money?

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Future of Education--Distance Ed in "one-room-schoolhouse" form

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We could solve a LOT of current problems by integrating technology with the "one room school house" approach. Consider:
- 14 kids (multi-age) in a neighborhood classroom (walk to school)with
- 2 "Learning Process Facilitators" (not "teachers") whose job includes connection with students -- and ensuring they are learning, that the equipment is working well for them, that they are paid attention to in a learning environment.
- Distance Education provided, multi-media, interactive teaching/learning through the computer with EXCELLENT teachers/lecturers and an EXCELLENT curriculum: The student moves as rapidly as they can or want to through the required basics -- and then on to advanced work as they choose -- with constant feedback, reinforcement and "extra" opportunities.
- Phone-center "tutors" (all over the country) who are available to answer questions and engage the thinking process either through the phone or through chat as the student is moving through the education module.
- Older students provide tutoring to younger students as part of their own learning and reinforcement
- Parents are more involved -- because they are close by to the neighborhood "distance education classroom" and would be conspicuously absent if not involved.
- Further socialization can be accomplished through arts / music / sports -- with modules on one-two days / week -- with larger groups
- The school day runs longer (say 8 to 6:00) -- to support family needs, study time, exercise, extra optional studies and socialization.
- The smaller group concept supports more individual attention -- less opportunity for problems with drugs / gangs / bullying, etc.

It is like "home-schooling -- grown up" Maybe Charter Schools could start this ... or establish pilot programs in existing school infrastructure.

And existing teachers could move into the roles of:
- EXCELLENT teachers - recording and providing the distance education modules in EXCELLENT Curricula
- Learning Process Facilitators -- which satisfies the needs of many teachers to be involved in the learning experience with students (but they don't have to be subject matter experts)
- Call Center Tutors -- where they could even work from home to support the learning of assigned students in assigned courses -- in time zones across the country.

We would not need to spend so much on bus transportation -- or traditional classrooms. The education would be greatly improved. We could maintain the excitement about learning -- and therefore the engagement of our students. Snow Days would be of little consequence.

Video conferencing can be used to connect administrators and technology support and the Learning Process Facilitators in the "school house."

Education could get better -- and cost savings would come from consolidating the curricula, e-books, reduced transportation costs and reducing the hierarchy of principals and staff.

It is difficult for a student

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It is difficult for a student to save money because of many things needed in school. I myself when I was in my school year. I have difficulties to practice spending habits because of the project and gimmicks. But now that I am working I realized that saving money is really important.

Saving money..,.

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I guess yes. Saving is hard. It may take time and financial discipline is needed. If they are going to eliminate those duplicate positions, it can help lessen the expenses of the said establishment. Coming up with that much money may seem impossible but it is a must. Financial experts today recommend having at least six months of living expenses squirreled away in a savings account to help you cope with an unexpected change in your financial situation.

Tammy Williams (not verified)

School Closing

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I am against consolidating. I attended a large school for six years, then moved to a small one. I graduated from this small school in Emmet, Arkansas in 1984. Surrounding schools consolidated into a larger school, but we stayed independent. Later, the school did consolidate with another small school thinking it would be a good idea and help keep both schools open. My daughter graduated there and my son is now in the 8th grade. I have a college degree and my daughter has been attending college. I believe that the school atmosphere contributed to the learning experience, mostly because the teacher's had more one-on-one time with the students. This year could be the last year our school is open because of the lack of financial responsibility on the part of the other school. They may stay open, but our school will be closing. We are looking for ways to become independent again. This is a close-knit community that will be split when the children have to be transported to other surrounding, larger districts. This will cause financial hardships on many families, as well as emotionally upset many children.***If anyone has any suggestions or contacts to help with this, please post them or send them to softballbitch13@yahoo.com. We do not want to lose our school. Thank you!

Paul (not verified)

small schools

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I went to a small school and I did not like it!!! It wasn't good for my education or soicaly! The school had bad teachers. There wasn't a lot of choices in classes or after school programs. I found out that in this school money and family names matter more then educating all students.

CONSOLIDATE SMALL SCHOOLS NOW!!!!!!

Vincent (not verified)

I voted for YES, because

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I voted for YES, because consolidation of several schools is really a good idea. I could say more, the schools can consolidate not only in one building but in several buildings inside 1 yard like an University campus.

Patricia Edmondson (not verified)

Consolidation - No

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The money gained by consolidating schools is insignificant in the scope of things. Small schools have small staffs. So taking their jobs is going to help balance the budget? No, it ends a way of life in this small town.

Consolidating small schools will lessen the quality of student education, create personal hardships on families, place even more stress on students by busing them for longer amounts of time, and, in my school's situation, over dangerous, icy mountain roads in the winter in a remote location. My town is so small that the school is the main employer, supporting two businesses. This town will die without a school.

How is killing a small town being cost-effective? Small schools are different. Their needs are different, their circumstances are different, and their populations are different. We're remote, have no standing police force, have two businesses, deal with extremely snowy and icy weather, and the school is the center of the community. We're not like inner city schools. Cutting costs in remote schools equals the death of a community, not a lost program or two.

R. Petheram (not verified)

Pertinent to Washington State

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Governor Gregoire announced yesterday, 2/11, that she will (has??) assemble a task force to consider just that. There are approximately 40 school districts in Washington with under 150 students. My school is one of those. We are a very small, rural school. (approximately 135 students, K-12)

In 1997, I moved my family here from Louisiana in search of a small school. I sought a small, rural environment for my children who were entering high school. They both graduated from Wishkah Valley School. I also teach there. I taught 20 years for East Baton Rouge Parish School System, and I have taught 12 years for Wishkah Valley School District.

Small schools meet the needs of students. Small schools are the best learning vehicle for students, as you have probably noted from all of Bill Gates's research and his efforts to fund educational excellence. I realize good teachers make a difference in students' lives, but at a small school, the difference is tangible. You SEE the changes. I know these students from the time they enter pre-school and watch them graduate from high school. There is a real sense of community here with all students. Yes, in the large district in Louisiana, I made a real difference in some students' lives. But I only had them for one year. And our middle school was separate from the elementary and high school. The advantages to seeing that student grow over their entire educational career have a breadth and scope that is phenomenal.

As for saving money, because we do not have a huge budget, we have become great conservers of public monies, stretching our dollars to the utmost, avid grant writers, excellent stewards to equipment and supplies. Large districts could learn a few budgetary lessons from us.

Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare, John Gardner, discussed small schools in a book entitled Excellence. In it he demonstrated that most of our presidents and other great leaders spent their early years in small schools. He concluded that this is because small schools allow ALL students to take on roles of responsibility. I concur. EVERY student at Wishkah Valley School is essential to its success. We need everyone on our sports teams, we need everyone in our performing arts classes, and we need everyone to achieve success in the classroom and on standardized tests. Our football team went to state this year and lost a heartbreakingly close game 64-62 for second place in our division. The students here have many opportunities.

In addition, small schools are truly the "heart" of a community. The community that loses its school, loses the community, literally. If you want to cut jobs in a community, then consolidate schools. Usually in small communities, schools are the entity that has the most employees. Wishkah Valley School, 2 small corner stores, and a cascara bark processor are the only companies in our community. Our community members, by and large, attended Wishkah Valley School themselves. And as educators, we are very aware of that. The better educated we graduate our students, the more our community members thrive.

So, having worked in a large school system and a tiny school district, the tiny school district wins, hands down, for its positive effect on student learning.

Jim Kilkenny (not verified)

consolidation conflict

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How long do things last? In my experience, somethings in the politic of school last forever. Five year plans often last two. The thing with cost saving is when does it make sense to do it, and when should be turn it around to turn it up?

My belief would be consolidate when trouble is here. Stand by me. When we can breathe free and move our own limbs, break the bonds of consolidation with greatful thanks and heads held up high. We all need to realize that some innovation has to be self-generated. You really can't have New York or LA type innovation in Bloomington, Mn or Oak Park, WI. You need Minnesota or Wisconsin innovation set for the specific school and district.
My number one need is to break all molds and have schools "fit" kids not kids "fit" schools.

Elbert Wells (not verified)

Library/Media K-5

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Most consolidation in Oklahoma is done as a last resort when schools are too small to offer even the "core curriculum." What would be most effective is a consolidation of administrative functions. A single person can be "superintendent" over several rural/small schools without losing the benefits of smaller class size and personal relationships. A county superintendent was a position for several years during our history, but has since been eliminated. Some of our counties are already so sparsely populated that they have only one high school. Consolidation would not work there. The bus rides are already an hour long one way.

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