AUSTIN, Texas – Consolidation has dramatically reduced the number of school districts in Texas and other states during the past century. However, research has furnished little evidence that consolidation controls costs or improves academic achievement as well as a system of shared service agreements.
In a recent ruling on West Orange-Cove, the Texas Supreme Court put policymakers under the gun to increase public school efficiency-and made it clear that the court favors school district consolidation.
“State policymakers would be well advised to heed the first and ignore the second. The evidence is clear. Considerably more money can be saved, and educational services improved, by a practice perfected in the private sector-shared services,” said Chris Patterson, research director at the Texas Public Policy Foundation, a non-profit, non-partisan research institute based in Austin.
A recently released report, “School District Consolidation and Public School Efficiency,” concludes that the promise of improved efficiency and educational outcomes is best realized through shared service agreements that consolidate administrative functions without merging organizations. The report is available online at www.TexasPolicy.com.
“A century of consolidation in Texas and other states offers some lessons for reform. First, bigger is not usually better, and, second, everyone benefits from sharing,” said Patterson, who authored the report. “A growing number of school districts are now reaping significant financial and academic benefit by banding together to consolidate specific programs, services, and activities.”
“To increase public school efficiency, policymakers should get school districts to eliminate duplication, streamline, and share.”