The Center for Governmental Research presents a report to a joint meeting of Lake Placid’s School Board and the Saranac Lake Central School Board on the question of efficiency, better programs for students, consolidation in some areas and sharing services. The report shows that districts can save anywhere from 2% to 6% by sharing services, but some of the benefits aren’t necessarily the financial savings.. In Lake Placid and Saranac Lake, for example, there are over 2,000 students with budgets totaling $44.6 Million. In the early nineteen hundreds, there were over ten thousand school districts until the central rural schools act began consolidation in 1914. Jaime Saunders is Associate Director of the Center for Governmental Research.. She tells the audience that now there are 700 in the state.
So Where are the cost savings in consolidation? Again, those “Found” savings range from 2% to 6% of a school’s operating budget.. but the first two to three years initial savings are often cancelled out as a result of increased capital and transition costs.. Plus this same report shows that School consolidations can reduce total costs only up to a point financially but there can be some real efficiencies.
In her presentation Jamie identified Opportunities to Explore including a Course inventory comparison for each district, the level of interest and Enrollment in courses, Virtual Learning Opportunities, Special Education Sharing, Professional Development, Summer School Programs, Drivers Education and others including matching bell schedules in the two districts
Saunders provides her expertise to a wide range of municipalities and school boards and she says these two boards are somewhat ahead of the game when it comes to sharing services.
One additional benefit for these two districts, because they are already working in combined committees to explore possibilities, The Center for Government Research offers additional levels of insight into consolidation, and funding is available at the state level..
The work of the two boards will continue to research opportunities and to identify equitable solutions for all parties involved and typically these types of programs will develop on a slow but steady timetable.
One thing the two boards have already agreed upon… One Superintendent for both districts isn’t the best idea for either of them, and so they’ll both separately be hiring new superintendents for the 2013-2014 school year.