Advice for consolidation task force (Martin)

Finally there is discussion about consolidation of Delaware’s school districts. I’m very optimistic that we can possibly cut the number of school districts.

There’s one problem with the task force created to study this. Seven out of 16 total members have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo. Consolidation could mean job loss for some of them. The task force should reach out to independent resources for help. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools (CMS) in North Carolina is a single district with over 147,000 students – more than all of Delaware with 19 districts. CMS’ total operating budget is $1.4 billion vs. Delaware’s $2.3 billion.

There are many other school districts around the country that have more students than all of Delaware. We should study some of them to glean ideas that could apply here.

There was a 2004 study that found it would actually cost more to consolidate because of leveling up of salaries. Let’s hope the results will be different this time. A lot of the outcome will depend on the attitude at the outset and the leadership.

R. Jerry Martin 

School district consolidation is perhaps the biggest opportunity for moderating the high cost of government in Delaware. The idea merits a thorough and objective evaluation.

See also subsequent letter to the editor from Jordon Rosen, 7/12/17.

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