Research: King’s call for large district consolidation produces least savings

The Times Union is reporting that education Commissioner John King Jr. Monday wants to see “larger districts in more densely populated, and wealthiest, parts of the state explore consolidation to save money.”

Municipalities and school districts have long explored the complex issue of consolidation. Locally, Warwick, Greenwood Lake and Tuxedo recently had talks that haven’t produced any results.

In Sullivan County, the rural school districts have been doing back-office consolidations: sharing a business administrator through BOCES and exploring other shared director-level slots.

While consolidation talks have long been targeted toward small districts, King specifically suggested consolidation for larger school districts, according to the TU.

But research has shown that the larger the district, the less the savings through consolidation, according to a 2001 study on New York schools  called “Does School Consolidation Cut Costs?”

William Duncombe of the Syracuse University Center for Policy Research found: “Overall, consolidation is likely to lower the costs of two 300-pupil districts by over 20 percent, to lower the costs of two 900-pupil districts by 7 to 9 percent, and to have little, if any, impact on the costs of two 1,500-pupil districts.”

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