Spurred by a new report and the looming state financial crisis, the time may be right for school district consolidation for Ohio.?? According to the recent report by the Brookings Institute and The Greater Ohio Policy Center, the Buckeye State drastically needs to scale down its overabundance of local school districts.
Consider the numbers:
??? Ohio has 611 school districts, almost half of which (49 percent) serve fewer than 1,700 students each.
??? Ohio ranks 47th in the U.S. in actual K-12 dollars going into classroom instruction.
??? Ohio ranks 9th in spending on administrative overhead.
??? Ohio's administrative overhead costs are 49 percent above the national average.
Faced with such staggering figures, both Governor Ted Strickland and his Republican challenger John Kasich gave measured statements of approval to the notion of consolidation in a recent article in the Akron Beacon Journal. Said Strickland:
''I think some of the administrative functions perhaps could be consolidated in a way that would be a cost saving, while at the same time allow the individual schools to maintain their colors, their mascots, their individuality,''
In the same article, Kasich called consolidation of services ''a very good starting point.''
Their cautioned responses reflect how thorny the idea of consolidation is in the local mindset. The Beacon Journal article went so far as to refer to school district consolidation as Ohio's ???third rail' of politics. Community identities are deeply rooted...