|October 23, 2023 11:48 AM
|Senator Judith L. Schwank
|All Senate members
|Combatting the Cost of School Mergers
|In some cases, a consolidation of resources is the most reasonable solution for struggling public school districts. However, a merger can prove to be costly and difficult for the receiving school district through heightened costs per pupil, greater administrative needs, pupil transportation, and simply adapting to a larger population. These factors are more than enough to deter a receiving school district from considering a possible merger. While a district should not be incentivized into merging with another, there should be support provided at the state level for those who choose to do so out of necessity.
I have seen firsthand the difficulties surrounding a possible school district merger in my legislative district. A devastating flood this summer rendered the middle/senior school in a small school district unusable three weeks prior to the beginning of the school year. As a result, students at all grade levels have been relocated into different school buildings. Some are even attending classes in a nearby church. This is not a long-term solution, and it is increasingly unlikely that there will be funding to build a new high school. There must be options at the state level to address combining resources and assisting our smaller, under-resourced school districts.
This is why I will be introducing legislation to aid school district mergers at the state level by helping to offset the increased cost per pupil, as well as any additional administrative needs, for up to five years following the merger. The funding required would be assessed through a study, paid for by the Commonwealth, to determine the estimated costs of merging.
Learning suffers when struggling, under resourced school districts cannot provide the opportunities students deserve. I ask my colleagues to please join me in co-sponsoring this essential measure.