Ohio has 614 school districts, a number that could be in for some subtraction depending on results of a study called for by Gov. John Kasich, a newspaper reported Sunday.
The governor has asked Ohio lawmakers to set up a panel to explore whether money could be saved and the quality of learning could be boosted by consolidating districts, something not done on a grand scale since the 1960s, The Cincinnati Enquirer reported.
The state’s public school systems vary widely in terms of both geographical and student body size. The borders, such as the zigzag lines around the Little Miami district in southwest Ohio, are largely a throwback to the agricultural-based economy of the early 20th century.
“When you look at them, there is no rhyme or reason,” said Little Miami school board president Kym Dunbar. “It would benefit a lot of people if they (state officials) were to look at these borders again.”
Republican State Rep. Peter Beck of Mason, north of Cincinnati, said there might be academic advantages for students if smaller districts were combined with bigger, neighboring ones with more resources. Beck, the chairman of the Ohio House Ways and Means Committee, said mergers also could be used to save taxpayer dollars by reducing the numbers of high-paid district administrators such as superintendents.
Three years ago, the Orrville and Rittman school districts in northeast Ohio’s Wayne County combined their office staffs, and opted to share one superintendent, one treasurer and a number of services. The move, stopping short of a full merger, has saved the districts a combined $300,000 a year, the Enquirer reported.