OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Oklahoma could save nearly $27 million by consolidating its school districts, according to an education professor’s recent policy paper.
James Machell, the dean of the University of Central Oklahoma College of Education and Professional Studies, recently released a report titled “Right-sizing Oklahoma Districts,” The Oklahoman reported .
Oklahoma had 525 school districts that served about 700,000 students last year, which is about three times the number of districts in other states with a similar enrollment size, the report found.
“I am for increased investment in education, while at the same time increasing efficiencies and decreasing wasteful practices,” Machell said. “I believe (having this many school districts) is wasteful.”
The report recommends consolidating some of the roughly 390 districts that have less than 1,000 students. The state could save nearly $27 million if it only had 200 school districts, Machell said.
“It sounds like common sense to say we need fewer school districts, but I also understand that this issue is political dynamite,” he said.
Some lawmakers are pushing for consolidation to reduce superintendents and administrative costs, while rural residents worry consolidation will hurt their communities, Machell said.
Sen. Gary Stanislawski, who chairs the Senate Education Committee, said there isn’t much political support for consolidation.
“However, if there was legislation that was more specific to targeting schools that were close to one another to where they had to start sharing superintendents or sharing administrative services, I could see something like that getting some support,” Stanislawski said.
Information from: The Oklahoman, http://www.newsok.com