Benefits consolidating schools

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Larger schools, in contrast, have been shown to increase transportation costs, raise dropout rates, lower student involvement in extra-curricular activities, and harm rural communities’ sense of place.

Despite this, the prevailing notion of streamlining school districts and reducing expenditures through consolidation remains strong.

Unfortunately, research on consolidation does not offer definitive guidance for making such decisions.

There are several reasons for this: empirical studies of consolidation employ different analytical approaches to data; older data in some studies yield results that may not be representative of current district conditions; studies do not uniformly separate costs related to merging only a narrow range of district services from costs related to merging entire districts or combining schools; different studies focus on different costs or estimate costs in different ways; and much of the literature consists of advocacy.

The extent of consolidation varies across states due to their considerable differences in history, geography, population density, and politics.For additional research from peer-reviewed journals and for research on other topics, contact the Ask A REL Reference Desk.Consolidation of Schools and Districts: What the Research Says and What it Means Howley, C., Johnson, J., & Petrie, J. University of Colorado, National Education Policy Center.Because economic crises often provoke calls for consolidation as a means of increasing government efficiency, the contemporary interest in consolidation is not surprising.However, the review of research evidence detailed in this brief suggests that a century of consolidation has already produced most of the efficiencies obtainable.

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