Consolidation: Will Charter Schools Be Included

Governor Ed Rendell has proposed forming a commission to consolidate Pennsylvania's 500 school districts down to no more than 100. The purpose of the consolidation is to reduce property tax burden. The commission would have one year to develop two plans to reorganize Pennsylvania's schools to be voted on by the legislature. If the General Assembly votes down both plans, authority would be given to the state board to reduce the number of school districts. Click here to see the fact sheet distributed by the state.

My question is will the 127 charter schools be included in this consolidation effort to reduce administrative costs? Most charter schools serve a smaller student body and still have the same administrative positions as public schools. According to our local paper one charter school serving 440 students had a CEO making $5,000 dollars less than the public school superintendent serving 6,700 students. Click here to see the article.

I am confused by these competing initiatives.

Is it possible we could have a state public education system consisting of 100 school districts and a 127 charter schools?

Comments

Coming from out of state, I have a very different perspective. It was totally foreign to me and seemingly wasteful to have SO many school districts in PA. NC has a little over 100 school districts and a cap (i think) of 100 charter schools. The school districts are mostly county wide..the district I grew up and worked in had 35 schools (6 high schools) but the biggest HS had about 1200 students and they were overcrowded, but the neighboring county where I lived had over 100 schools. There was a state salary and each district supplemented by their own percentage,insurance was the same, but benefits varied. It seems to me that consolidation would help in a lot of ways...administration would be consolidated...you would have one superintendent, but several associates...that part would have to be structured VERY conciously. I think students will benefit from additional services being available and I would hope that special education pops might be reduced by additional resources.
Your question about charter schools is a good one, but one of the reasons that charter schools exist is just like private schools...do something different from the traditional public school, so if they are consolidated, then they wouldn't be charter schools anymore, would they? I don't necessarily agree with charter schools...they get public funds and set up their own school, their own rules, but they still have to take standardized tests and meet state standards?

Change is always very hard, but often beneficial. We will see how it plays out.
Kelly said…
Michelle... thanks for sharing your thoughts. I doubt anyone would argue that there is not a place for consolidation. There are certainly places it makes complete sense.

What I am trying to wrap my head around is what is the vision for our K-12 education system? Is it large school systems organized around cost-effectiveness or small schools designed to meet student needs. It isn't a public or charter school debate in my mind.

If we are going to look at configuration of schools, then I think Charter Schools should figure into that debate. Let's begin with the end in mind.
Kelly said…
Post Script:

The February issue of School Leader News published by the PA School Boards Association (PSBA) responded to the issue of consolidation.

"PSBA has found no research that proves school consolidation saves taxpayer funds. Additionally, available research shows that consolidation does not improve educational achievement among the affected students"

They plan to release a research paper on the issue at their April 2009 Legislative Advocacy Conference.

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