Flint Hills on Consolidation

The Garden City Telegram (“Consolidation not likely option for crowding,” 9/5/07) referenced our work on school district consolidation.

Here’s how it starts: “Even if USD 457 found a nearby school district that wanted to consolidate — which is unlikely, according to several nearby superintendents — it probably wouldn’t solve the facility problems Garden City High School is facing, members of a study group said Tuesday night.”

It then talks about the mechanics of consolidation–it would require sending up to 500 students to another school district, perhaps straining their facilities–and mentions that would-be candidates are not interested.

The article drops in our own concerns: ”

“In a report from the Flint Hills Center for Public Policy, a Kansas-based nonprofit think tank, policy fellow John LaPlante wrote that proponents favor consolidation because they see it as a cost-saving measure. Additional arguments are that it can provide a greater base for specialized offerings and that teacher pay can be higher in a larger, better-funded district, he wrote.

However, the plan doesn’t necessarily save a lot of money, and it can cause harm by reducing the amount of competition between schools, he wrote.”

If you’d like to see our report, you can find it (PDF) here.

There are other options for addressing the problems of bursting-at-capacity, including private/public partnerships for new facilities and giving some students the opportunity to attend virtual schools, which require few bricks-and-mortal projects.

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