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Governor’s School Consolidation Plan Questioned

Governor Mitch Daniels’ proposal to consolidate school districts with fewer than 1,000 students is part of a larger push for local government reform. Daniels says his plan targets redundant school bureaucracies. But some experts say schools won’t necessarily benefit by the consolidation.

Terry Spradlin is with the Center for Evaluation and Education Policy. He’s been studying Indiana school consolidation for three years. He says many state school districts are running smoothly, although size usually doesn’t have anything to do with it. Plus, Spradlin says school districts have been effectively trimming bureaucratic fat for the last half-century.

“Whereas most units of government – county, city, township government – have likely either remained the same … or increased in size,” Spradlin says, “School districts … are the only local units of government that have consolidated. And not only consolidated, but consolidated significantly over a 50-year period.”

Spradlin says there were more than 1,000 school districts across the state in the 1950s. There are now less than 300. Although Spradlin says that some districts would likely benefit from consolidation, it’s still a plan he’d rather see done on a case-by-case basis.

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