York County Republican state representatives held a press conference Friday, saying they have asked for a state office to study whether the school consolidation – specifically of administration – would save money for taxpayers here.
After the event, I spoke with a few agencies that have looked into the issue at a statewide level.
Jim Buckheit, executive director of the Pennsylvania Association of School Administrators, said that the group decided to study the issue because they were tired of hearing criticism that schools are bloated with administrators.
Looking at money spent on administrators and the number of administrators per 1,000 students, he said, Pennsylvania was less costly and had fewer than all but one of the six states with countywide school districts.
Buckheit suggested that if administration costs are around 4 percent of a district’s spending – Rep. Seth Grove said the costs run about 4 to 6 percent in York County – maybe officials should be looking at how to more efficiently spend the other 96 percent.
A research paper from the Pennsylvania School Boards Association looked at consolidation overall and didn’t find evidence of cost savings for a few reasons, according to Steve Robinson, spokesman. Sometimes transportation costs weren’t considered, and salary scales have to be leveled out. They usually go up.
Robinson said some districts have talked about the possibility of sharing various administrators, but he wasn’t sure of the results.
The school boards association believes mergers have substantial local impact, he said.
“Local districts need to have a clear voice,” Robinson said.
The topic of school consolidation always brings out strong opinions on both sides of the issue. What do you think?