Consolidating school districts

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Second, education requires certain physical capital, such as a heating system and science laboratories, which require a certain scale to operate efficiently and therefore have a high cost per pupil in small districts.Third, larger districts may be able to employ more specialized teachers, putting them in a better position to provide the wide range of courses required by state accountability systems and expected today by students and parents.According to the National Center for Education Statistics, 117,108 school districts provided elementary and secondary education in 1939-40.

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.Here is a summary of the major findings from the literature: Here is some of the most recent and publicly available research.For additional research from peer-reviewed journals and for research on other topics, contact the Ask A REL Reference Desk.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.However, while the literature on consolidation may not provide a direct road map for making decisions, it does provide a useful overview of issues, together with estimates of cost savings and cautions for those going forward with consolidation.

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