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ERIC Number: ED517802
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2009-Apr
Pages: 9
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
County School Districts: Research and Policy Considerations
Center for the Study of Education Policy
Since the days when the country was dotted with one-room schoolhouses, many changes have taken place in school governance and management. In 1940, there were over 117,000 public school districts in the United States. In 2000, there were fewer than 15,000, even though the student population of the country had doubled in that time. While school districts were merging over those six decades, in some states and regions the decision was made to unify school district boundaries with other municipal boundaries, particularly county boundaries. Today, county school systems are the norm in Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Maryland, Nevada, South Carolina, and West Virginia. Studying county school district formation inevitably involves reviewing research on school consolidation in general. In reviewing school consolidation studies over the past decades, researchers have identified several perceived benefits and liabilities of consolidated districts versus independent districts. Overall, the research can be summarized as follows: (1) Economies of scale are greatest when small districts merge; as districts get larger, at some point the economies plateau, and then expenses rise with greater district complexity. In other words, there is a "point of diminishing returns"; (2) Student performance is equal or better in smaller schools; and (3) Other considerations besides finances should be part of the consolidation deliberation. Appended are: (1) Sample Case Studies--County Consolidation; and (2) County School Organization by State. (Contains 22 footnotes.)
Center for the Study of Education Policy. Department of Educational Administration and Foundations, College of Education, Illinois State University, 320 DeGarmo Hall, Campus Box 5900, Normal, IL 61790-5900. Tel: 309-438-2399; Fax: 309-438-8683; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Elementary Secondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: Illinois State University, Center for the Study of Education Policy
Identifiers - Location: Florida; Georgia; Louisiana; Maryland; Nevada; South Carolina; United States; West Virginia