William Duncombe. Center for Policy Research. 11/2005. p. 58.
ABSTRACT: Consolidation has dramatically reduced the number of school districts in the United States. Using data from rural school districts in New York, this paper provides the first direct estimation of consolidations cost impacts. We find economies of size in operating and capital spending: doubling enrollment cuts total costs per pupil by 28 percent for a 300-pupil district and by 9 percent for a 1,500-pupil district. Adjustment costs in capital spending lower these enrollment-based cost savings by about 5 percentage points. Overall, consolidation makes fiscal sense, particularly for very small districts, but states should avoid subsidizing unwarranted capital projects. The results of this paper should be of interest to state and local elected officials, to people in state education departments, and to public school administrators.