ERIC Number: ED338459
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1990-Nov
Reference Count: N/A
Clustering: Working Together for Better Schools.
Nachtigal, Paul; Parker, Sylvia D.
With declining enrollments and budget limitations, it becomes more and more difficult for small rural schools to offer state-approved programs (often based on the "bigger is better" model of education). For many already consolidated districts, further consolidation is not a viable solution to the problem. Cooperative arrangements are needed. The cluster strategy allows a group of neighboring schools to exchange ideas, share resources, and make more effective use of outside resources. The concept of "cluster" has grown to include a wide range of applications, with organizational patterns ranging from informal alliances to those embedded in public policy. Loose coalitions are formed between districts to share teachers or students for academic or extracurricular activities. Formal clusters are necessary when undertaking major projects such as developing programs or curricula, redesigning schools, or cooperating with colleges or universities. Institutionalized consortia are now emerging as a policy strategy in some states to improve quality, access, and efficiency in rural education. Successful implementation of clusters requires a common purpose, a time commitment, similarity of member schools, geographic proximity of schools, simple organizational structure, active participation of administrators, involvement of school boards and communities, involvement of support organizations, starting small to ensure early success, frequent meetings, shared financing, and accountability. This booklet also lists academic, economic, social, and political benefits of clustering, and describes several existing clusters. (SV)
Publication Type: Guides - Non-Classroom
Education Level: N/A
Sponsor: Office of Educational Research and Improvement (ED), Washington, DC.
Authoring Institution: Mid-Continent Regional Educational Lab., Aurora, CO.
Identifiers: Cluster Schools; Small School Districts