ERIC Number: EJ888159
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2010-May
Reference Count: N/A
A Case Study of School District Consolidation
Cronin, Joseph M.
School Administrator, v67 n5 p19-23 May 2010
Several New England states have been rethinking the system whereby small towns make the key decisions about school budgets and staffing under the banner of local control. Maine already has mandated a reduction in the number of local school districts from 290 to 80, allowing localities to vote on the larger districts. This consolidation, unpopular in rural areas, was reaffirmed by Maine voters in November 2009 and has led to 75 fewer districts to date. The reluctant local schools that do not consolidate by law will lose a portion of their state aid. Vermont's former commissioner of education proposed a 1,500-student minimum size school district, again an unpopular idea. The current commissioner, Armando Vilaseco, a former principal and superintendent, warned that Vermont, suffering from serious enrollment declines, had too many superintendents and too many teachers. He also said students need to be in school for 12 months, at least some of it in online instruction. Massachusetts operated 2,250 school district in the 1800s, each with a school committee (governing board) to supervise schools that had as few as one or two classrooms in each corner of a town. In 1882, the state's lawmakers reassigned budget responsibility to each of the 351 cities and towns, eliminating more than 1,800 little school boards. Since World War II, Massachusetts has authorized 30 regional vocational schools and more recently several dozen charter schools, each having a governing board and budget responsibilities. Gov. Deval Patrick asked his staff to look into possible consolidations of the smaller districts, prompting state Sen. Stanley Rosenberg to arrange a series of studies of the most rural section of Massachusetts, Franklin County, straddling the Connecticut River just south of the Vermont and New Hampshire state lines. In this article the author, who led a state-funded case study of century-old governance in western Massachusetts' Franklin County, details a series of options for the public school districts. At issue is how to introduce a sensible economic structure while preserving the community character of the schools.
Descriptors: Consolidated Schools, School District Reorganization, Rural Areas, Case Studies, School District Autonomy, State Aid, Educational Finance, Politics of Education, School Districts, Community Characteristics, Municipalities, Rural Schools, Charter Schools
American Association of School Administrators. 801 North Quincy Street Suite 700, Arlington, VA 22203-1730. Tel: 703-528-0700; Fax: 703-841-1543; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; Web site: http://www.aasa.org
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Elementary Secondary Education
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Maine; Massachusetts; New Hampshire; Vermont