Thursday, April 02, 2009

The Education Budget #3: Whatever Happened to School District Consolidation?


The Governor's proposed budget had this in it:
(ii) Within the amounts provided in this subsection (1)(a), the superintendent of public instruction is to conduct the following activity to identify efficiencies in the organization and structure of school districts. The superintendent shall make recommendations for a streamlined school district consolidation process, develop appropriate criteria, and provide needed statutory changes to meet the following goals: Reduce operating costs; reduce administrative duplication; and create efficiencies to offer better programmatic opportunities to students. Recommendations shall also include specific proposals for realigned school districts. The superintendent of public instruction shall report to the governor and the appropriate legislative committees by November 1, 2009.
...but you won't find that language in either the House or Senate budgets, and that's a shame.

Long-term readers know that this is a drum that I've been beating for a while now, and it makes absolute sense--if some administrative functions in school districts can be combined to save money that can be re-directed to teachers and kids, why wouldn't we want to do that? It's not about closing schools, though that is the fear some have--it's about figuring out why Sprague, Harrington, and Lamont all have their own superintendent allotment for adjoining school districts that are less than 500 kids each, why we need three school districts in the Spokane Valley, why Orchard Prairie continues to exist, why we need 5 different school districts in the San Juan Islands.

We're either in an economic crisis or we're not--if we're not willing to take a long, hard look at *every* function of school governance, then this isn't really a crisis.

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