Combining small districts to save money is a widely used but controversial policy tool. But research has not shown that consolidation improves student achievement or results in meaningful cost benefits, says a report by Indiana University researchers.
Instead, the education policy brief by the university’s Center for Evaluation and Education Policy recommends that districts save money by pooling their resources to purchase goods and services—from health insurance to paper.
Although targeted at Indiana, the report could have broader implications in light of consolidation debates in other states with large concentrations of rural districts, such as Arkansas and Maine.
“Assessing the Policy Environment for School Corporation Collaboration, Cooperation and Consolidation in Indiana” is available online from Indiana University.