” School Consolidation”
Well we are hearing a lot about school consolidation as of late. The most recent proponent is Delaware State Auditor Tom Wagner Jr. . Mr. Wagner has released a report that recommends consolidating the 19 school districts into smaller state run districts at least on the administration level.
This idea has been put forth before. The idea is that by consolidating we would cut the cost of education by eliminating redundant positions such as superintendents and other administrators. We would cut cost on paperwork in the ordering of supplies.
Mr. Wagner has said that by cutting excess dollars spent on administrators we could keep more educational dollars in the classroom, so there wouldn’t actually be any savings to the tax payers only a shifting of where the money would go.
Also it is unlikely we would see the amount of savings on the cutting of superintendents because most likely they would just be re-titled as assistant superintendents due to the fact that one or two people could not over see the entire state education system.
But for the sake of argument I will put aside my thoughts on whether or not we would see the amount of savings that proponents say we would. My larger concern is the loss of control of our schools on the local level and with it the loss of control over a large amount of our tax dollars. As it stands now we get to vote in referendums to decide many issues concerning the education of our children. We also get to elect our school boards who are answerable to the voters in the school district.
We must ask ourselves are we willing to give over this control merely to save money? I think saving money is a good thing but sometimes we pay for that which we decide is a better product, such as when we buy cars or electronics.
I think instead of creating larger consolidated school districts that would become bloated bureaucracies our education system would actually be better off if we would down size school districts . The smaller and closer you make the districts to the communities they serve I believe the better education you can offer. We must ask ourselves what is our goal in the education process, is it to give the best education possible or is it a business to be run on profit margins. We should not be willing to turn over control to a far removed state government simply for the promise of savings that will likely never materialize.
Now add to this the fact that the federal government is moving for standardized national testing and we may just be being set up for the larger move to a federal school district system. And if you think education is non responsive to your needs and wants and is overly expensive now wait until you are forced to conform to a national mandated system. Also to you home schoolers out there do you think the federal government will allow you to continue to teach your child at home , we have already seen a judge force a home schooled child into public school for “social skills”.
Let us not give up one of our last controls over government and how they use our tax dollars just because government tells us they are going to save money. We know that that almost is never the case, and this goes to all of those out there who say “why should I pay school taxes when I don’t even have children”, but you still get to vote on how your taxes are spent.
“Consolidation Part II “
The idea of consolidating the nineteen Delaware school districts into three county wide and one technical school districts is gaining momentum.
Delaware State Auditor Tom Wagner seems to be a leading advocate for consolidation . He asked the question “how many people do you need to run a school district”? There is nothing wrong with his question , but I do have a problem with the state giving the answer.
If the people of a school district feel that money is being wasted on administration then they should join together and lobby the school board to make changes at the local level, if the board is unresponsive then vote them out. If the state feels that it’s share of school funding is too high then it should just cut that amount of funding and allow the local districts to make up the difference through local taxes if the residents of that district feel that the money is needed.
Why should state tax dollars collected in New Castle County be spent in Sussex or the other way around anyway?
It has been suggested that if we were to consolidate into county wide districts that local control could be maintained by electing a single county school board based on geographical make up. All this will do , at least down here in Sussex County , is to pit the east side of the county with it’s large make up of retired people against the west side of the county for how and when tax dollars should be spent. Also as it is now if you are unhappy with matters within the district you can lobby the entire board and motivate them at the ballot box because they all live within your district and you get to vote for all of them , at least that’s the case within the Woodbridge Dist. where I live. If we were to go to the county wide districting you most likely would have only one board member to lobby , so you would only be able to influence one vote out of say five.
We must stop this constant move towards the consolidation of power that we are seeing throughout our government at all levels. The local school district may be our last chance, our fall back position per say to stave off government control of our entire lives. If we can join together to stop the state from bullying us into giving up this source of control over our tax dollars then maybe we can turn the tide of growing government control in other areas as well.
We must resist the seduction of being told that it will save tax dollars , it won’t , it will only allow the state to redirect tax dollars to other places that will be determined by those further removed from the local level. Do not be surprised that if this happens that we are told that wealthier areas will be required to pay more in tax money to “level ” the playing field for the poorer areas.