Pennsylvanians ought to be aware that the problems with pensions and deteriorating infrastructure are so great that a big increase in state funding for public education is highly unlikely, regardless of who will be governor next year, or four years down the road.
Taxpayers and the directors they elect should take a critical look at how money from both the state and local property taxes is spent. Cuts in state funding in recent years have resulted in higher property taxes, teacher lay-offs and dropped programs. Those cuts would not have been necessary if school districts were not spending so much on unnecessary and ever-growing layers of administration.
Washington and Greene counties, with a combined population of 246,801 (the same size as Durham, N.C.), have 19 school districts. There are 19 superintendents, 19 business managers, 19 curriculum coordinators and, of course, all of their assistants.
Each of these districts purchases supplies and independently contracts with bus companies and other vendors. Imagine how much money might be saved by purchasing supplies at a volume discount as one or two units, rather than 19.
Imagine, too, how much could be saved if all 14 Washington County school districts were run by a single administration rather than 14.
“Merger” is not something of which to be afraid. School districts need not give up their history, traditions or, heaven forbid, their football teams. But they do need to consolidate and cooperate with each other in order to provide better opportunities for students.
By the way, Durham, N.C., has one school district and one superintendent, who oversees 33,000 students in 56 schools with one deputy superintendent and four assistants.