Consolidating school districts illinois


06-Feb-2016 08:49

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Photo by Candi Patterson/Center for Policy Research, Syracuse University The aid bonus from consolidation can be quite large.In New York, consolidating districts may receive an increase in their basic operating aid of up to 40 percent for five years, with declining increases for an additional nine years.The School District Realignment and Consolidation Commission, re-named the Classrooms First Commission, must report to the General Assembly its recommendations regarding ways that Illinois school districts can improve student learning opportunities and also reduce duplicative administration costs by July 1, 2012.The Classrooms First Commission is being chaired by Lieutenant Governor Sheila Simon.The most common form of policy is a state aid program designed to encourage district reorganization, typically in the form of consolidation, by providing additional money for operations or capital projects during the transition to the new form of organization.John Yinger (left) and William Duncombe, both professors at Syracuse University's Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, have studied the economics of size in public education.According to Eells, if that school were to join with a couple of other K-6s, a K-8 and maybe even a high school, the schools could eliminate duplicative administrative jobs, merge administrative tasks like payroll, and purchase commodities at lower rates thanks to the benefits of buying in bulk.

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There are several reasons for this: empirical studies of consolidation employ different analytical approaches to data; older data in some studies yield results that may not be representative of current district conditions; studies do not uniformly separate costs related to merging only a narrow range of district services from costs related to merging entire districts or combining schools; different studies focus on different costs or estimate costs in different ways; and much of the literature consists of advocacy.Sometimes, but not always, individual schools were closed in the process.Although the trend slowed down over the years, there appear to be a growing number of states revisiting this managerial move -- and with good reason.What’s more, a remarkable 144 of New Jersey’s districts are made up of only one school.

State Auditor Stephen Eells points out the inefficiency of having one K-6 school handle all the administrative costs of running a school district.

The Commission is comprised of parents, teachers, administrators, and policy makers from rural, suburban, and urban areas across the state.