Dealing With Declining Student Numbers

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The Consolidation Quandary

In North Dakota and other states, educators often clash on the wisdom of merging smaller districts into larger units. Common cases for and against consolidation break down as follows:

Advocates argue that merging districts can save money on administrative and facilities budgets, freeing up more resources for curriculum and instruction.

'The question is how can we continue to provide quality education under these circumstances," North Dakota schools chief Wayne G. Sanstead said of the state's efforts to get dozens of tiny districts to merge with neighboring jurisdictions.

Opponents say that small schools are the centers of their communities and can provide a high- quality education regardless of their enrollments.

"I don't know of solid, convincing research that says a larger school is better than a smaller school," said Joe Newlin, executive director in the National Rural School Network in Fort Collins, Colo.

Vol. 19, Issue 10, Page 17

Published in Print: November 3, 1999, as Dealing With Declining Student Numbers
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