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One thing that we know is that in education, small works bigger than big. We strive to be able to afford small class sizes and hope for elementary schools that don't exceed populations of 500. Why? Because children are best educated where people know each other, greet each other, and care about each other.
I have taught in both large and small public schools. There are obvious advantages to both, more opportunities in large school districts and more personal support for students in small schools. I cannot give a "blanket" yes or no to this question. Currently, I teach mostly rural, small schools in Arkansas with populations around 1,000 students and consolidation can be of benefit for some of these small districts, but I think the smart use of technology can help bridge distance barriers among smaller districts that are spread out. Several small brick and mortar schools tied together by a 'virtual' common school or district where technology is not only shared but woven into the fabric of the schools themselves would be beneficial and be the "best of both worlds". As for administrative costs for personnel, a look at the salaries and benefits of many of these administrators is way off the scale. I do not want to "bash" administrators, but certainly educators in the field can agree that there is, at present, an unequitable treatment of adminstrative staff versus teaching staff in most public schools. Administrators should be held accountable for their performance as well and be under the same contract guidelines that teachers are under. I think when salaries are more equitably funded within districts and teachers take on more leadership roles within their campuses, changes within public education will begin to take shape much faster.
This question could be posed to a high school civics class. This is a great way to approach the topic of Federalism. President Obama putting school construction funds in the federal stimulus packeage, but State and local governments may want to cut back on physical plant to save money.
It depends on the situation. If there are several small districts very close it might work. Our district is a small rural district that covers quite a large area and if we were to consolidate with other districts it would mean even longer bus rides than the students already have. Riding a bus for 1 1/2 -2 hours twice a day would not be a positive change for students.
Many school business administrators agree that school consolidation will most likely save little if any money for the schools who are merging.In fact, states with the most local control over schools tend to produce better results(higher student achievement) than those states with schools that operate county or state-wide. Instead of trying to save pennies on the dollar in administrative reductions, schools should be looking at becoming more efficient by reforming current systems and practices. For example, if schools could purchase supplies through the open market they could save millions of dollars per year. Furthermore, the cost of textbooks and other paper-based instructional materials is obscene. Instead, schools should look at the one laptop program ($100 laptop every three years vs. $200 in books each year), provide each student with a computer and move all instructional materials to the web. This too would save millions per district and insure students have access to the most up-to-date curriculum materials (impossible with a 5 year textbook replacement program).
As a school campus that has recently split into 3 "small schools" ala Bill Gates and the Dept of Education grant I can tell you that this isn't necessarily working for everyone they say it will work for. From a cost of administration POV, we have gone from 1 principal and 2 VP's to 3 principals, from 1 OM to 3 OM and 3 assistant OM, no registrar or attendance sectretary (that's the Om and AOM's job now) and almost NO electives for students. Class sizes are actually larger than before as well. And as the Teacher Librarian for the Campus, shared between the 3 school with 3 different bell schedules, attendance programs, rules, etc... it's not all that!