Consolidating school districts within a state

Illinois Senate President John Cullerton is on record as favoring the addition of incentives to sweeten the deal for local districts that are merging.

This might include building a new school for two districts that merge, or paying off the debt of a school to make it more attractive as a merger partner.

In New York, consolidating districts may receive an increase in their basic operating aid of up to 40 percent for five years, with declining increases for an additional nine years.

On top of this aid, consolidating districts also may receive a 30 percent increase in building aid for projects initiated within 10 years of consolidation.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, 117,108 school districts provided elementary and secondary education in 1939-40.On average, Illinois school districts serve just 2,399 students per district, the fifth-lowest among states with school populations over 1 million.Conversely, California school districts average 6,067 students.Nearly 25 percent of Illinois school districts serve just one school, and over one-third of all school districts have fewer than 600 students.An additional layer of administration for these districts is inefficient.Proponents of consolidation always mention the savings, but it should be noted that some costs will go up, not down.

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