Consolidating school districts within a state

Hawaii, for instance, has a single statewide school system.

At the opposite extreme, 14 states have more than 300 public school districts.

When school districts merge the main challenges usually involve finding ways to improve test scores and cut costs without sacrificing educational opportunities, but the new Starkville Oktibbeha Consolidated School District faced an even bigger challenge: desegregation.

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Just ask voters in Valdosta, Ga., who in November 2011, by nearly a 4-to-1 ratio, rejected a ballot initiative that would have merged the Valdosta City and Lowndes County school districts.The Valdosta Chamber of Commerce backed the proposed school merger and the local newspaper endorsed it, arguing uniting the two school systems would improve efficiency and the quality of education.Illinois Governor Pat Quinn and the state’s legislators are considering the consolidation of school districts in order to save the state money.The evidence detailed in this brief suggests that “a century of consolidation has already produced most of the efficiencies obtainable” and that poor regions benefit from smaller schools and districts.Legislatures and governors recently have given increased attention to school district consolidation.