Consolidating school districts within a state
But these same local taxpayers shouldn’t be on the hook for multiple layers of government – in the form of school districts – that duplicate services, waste tax dollars, increase government debt, and decrease transparency.
Given the challenges facing consolidation efforts, district consolidation will only happen when the state partners with local districts to discuss concerns and craft a solution.
However, the commission should also be relatively narrow in its scope of recommendations.
School district consolidation should focus on reining in the duplicative costs of district administration only – not on equalizing salary contracts or funding new facilities.
Many districts retain at least one assistant superintendent as well.
Administrative salaries in school districts end up consuming a significant portion of public funding.
From 1930 through 1970, a gradual consolidation process eliminated 9 of every 10 school districts nationally. Over 10,000 of these were one-room schools with an average enrollment of 12 students.
By 1955, the state had cut the number of districts to 2,242, and by the year 2000, the district count had fallen to 894. Nearly 45 percent are elementary, 12 percent are secondary (high school), and 45 percent are unit districts, meaning they serve both elementary and secondary students.
Despite the massive reduction in Illinois school districts, the state is still not efficient when compared with its 14 peer states that also serve 1 million or more students.
The cost of administrative staffs at school districts adds up quickly.
Nearly all districts have superintendents and secretaries, as well as additional personnel in human resources, special education, facilities management, business management and technology.