On June 7, 2006, the Rhode Island Public Expenditure Council (RIPEC) and the Rhode Island Association of School Committees (RIASC) released a joint report entitled “Cost-effective Schools for the 21st Century- Consolidation and Collaboration Revisited”. RIPEC and RIASC prepared this report to provide decision-makers with information when considering issues of district regionalization, consolidation, and collaboration as they impact student performance, effectiveness, efficiencies, and accountability.
The report reviews the academic literature on the potential costs and benefits of consolidation, relates the findings to Rhode Island, and uses the framework of the 1992 report of the 21st Century Education Commission to update opportunities to improve education efficiency, and sets forth recommendations to enhance the effective delivery of education services through fewer districts and more shared services.
Some of the key findings of the report are as follows:
- RIPEC projects that in FY 2007, spending for public elementary and secondary education will reach $2.0 billion. As discussed in this report, there is a potential to reduce statewide education costs by approximately $83.0 to $100.0 million, or about 5.0 percent of total expenditures;
- To assure both quality and affordable educational services the direction must be fewer districts and more shared services;
- Economies of scale can be reached by combining administrative and professional positions; and
- In fall 2002, 54.3 percent of Rhode Island public school students were enrolled in school districts with enrollment of 5,000 or more, compared to 67.5 percent for the United States.