December 3, 2008

School District Consolidation

It was with much fanfare that the Suozzi report on school property taxes was released this week. Unfortunately, it does little to address real solutions needed to alleviate our tax burden. School districts continue to engage in runaway spending, while taxpayers have little or no control over these egregious spending habits.

What the Suozzi report does address is the merging of school districts. Suozzi recommends forced merger of school districts with fewer than 1000 students. Niagara County has none.

But the Suozzi Commission also favors giving the State Education Department the power to require mergers of districts under 2000. According to these 2006-07 enrollment figures from SED, 4 of 10 of Niagara's districts fit that bill: Barker, Newfane, Roy Hart & Wilson. Since it's safe to assume that each of their superintendent's compensation packages approach $200,000 per year, we're talking about saving the taxpayers of Niagara County millions of dollars over the life of these superintendents current contracts by consolidating districts and eliminating the duplication.

There are currently over 700 school districts in the state.






NIAGARA COUNTY
Enrollment


Barker
1,008


Lewiston Porter
2,327


Lockport
5,177


Newfane
1,966


Niagara Falls
7,518


Niagara Wheatfield
4,069


North Tonawanda
4,293


Royalton Hartland
1,567


Star Point
2,844


Wilson
1,450


10 DISTRICTS
32,219


1 comment:

lido said...

From the report...

In comparison, Florida's system of countywide school districts includes only 67 districts, and school districts in that state, and in Maryland, North Carolina and Virginia, which also rely exclusively or extensively on countywide school districts, average approximately 40,000, 36,000, 12,000 and 9,000 students respectively.

From 2005-06 to 2006-07, 70 percent of New York school
school districts saw pupil enrollments decline or remain the same. Recent trends suggest that this pattern of declining student
enrollment can be expected to continue.

If districts with fewer than 1,000 students were consolidated, as recommended in this report, the Commission estimates that the number of districts could be reduced considerably. Larger districts can take advantage of economies of scale and administrative and operational efficiencies. In addition to these financial benefits, the New York State Education Department’s guide to reorganizing school districts suggests that merging smaller districts to create larger districts provides an “increased pupil and financial base” that allows the larger district to increase subject offerings (e.g., multiple languages and advanced placement) and increase the number of sections in a specific subject area to meet student needs.

I would leave you with one question. What if we had 62 school districts…?
- Robert Bennett, Chancellor, New
York State Board of Regents