Does school district consolidation save money?

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copyright the Chronicle August 3, 2016

by Tena Starr

Last month, voters in the Orleans Central Supervisory Union (OCSU) rejected a plan to consolidate into a single big school district. When they did, they also threw away the carrots that went with early consolidation, a surprising move for taxpayers who have been complaining about the increasing cost of education, and the corresponding hikes in property taxes. Only Barton voted in favor of the consolidation plan.

Act 46, the law that urges districts to consolidate, was initially touted as a measure to provide the property tax relief that people were clamoring for. It has since been somewhat recast as a way to improve, or at least equalize, educational opportunities.

But does consolidation do either one? It turns out that question has been the subject of considerable research, by scholars, journalists, and educators. And the optimistic answer, the one that puts consolidation in the best light possible, is maybe.

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