ERIC Number: ED323040
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1984-Oct
School Closures and Policy Issues. Policy Paper No. 84-C3.
Valencia, Richard R.
This paper examines the literature on the impact of school closures on students and communities in the context of four policy issues: school size, cost savings, educational equity, and public support for education. In closure decisions, a major hypothesis affecting school board members is that larger schools can offer a broader curriculum at lower costs than smaller schools; therefore, bigger is better. Research suggests, however, that student participation decreases with increasing institutional size, and that a school should be sufficiently small to need all its students for its enterprises. Although driven by a desire for cost savings, most school closings realize only slight savings because 75-80% of a school budget is for personnel costs, which are only slightly affected by closings. Not only are there meager data to support the closure-savings argument, most consolidated districts are unable to document the amount of money saved. The available data suggest that more than half of the districts that calculated actual cost savings experienced no savings or additional costs. School closings produced by retrenchment policy-making often result in clear winners and losers. Investigations of school closings in five major cities indicate that schools with primarily low socioeconomic status and minority students have suffered the brunt, if not the exclusive burden, of closings. Such decisions exacerbate the already difficult conditions that high-risk minority students face. School closings also have social costs: reduced parent involvement in their children's education, flight to private schools, and decreased public support for educational bonds and levies. This report contains 40 references. (SV)
Publication Type: Information Analyses; Opinion Papers
Education Level: N/A
Sponsor: National Inst. of Education (ED), Washington, DC.
Authoring Institution: Stanford Univ., CA. Inst. for Research on Educational Finance and Governance.