The Asbury Park Press has this to say about school district consolidation: “it’s dead in the water, at least for now.”
True enough. In 2007 the post of Executive County Superintendent was invented specifically to make recommendations to eliminate all districts not K-12 (here’s the statute), and those consolidation plans were filed nine months ago in March. However, the DOE now says that although it has “those reports in hand,” the “money isn’t available to study those consolidation recommendations in more detail.” In other words, our government created a new level of management that is now, arguably, either gratuitous or badly in need of a new job description. Not to mention that we still have almost 600 school districts of which only 220 are K-12. (To be fair, Executive County Superintendents do a few other things, but consolidation was the heart of their mission.)
We can rail about the waste of money, time, and countless school board and community meetings devoted to analyzing consolidation proposals and addressing concerns. We can groan at the irony of a DOE-initiated project intended to foster efficiency evanescing into dust right back at the DOE, like some black-humored moebius strip.
In the end, the consolidation project was dead in the water from the get-go. Legislation requires that every district targeted could vote the proposal up or down. Since at least one district in each new consolidated area would see an increase in taxes, it takes no genius to see where that one was headed.
Couldn’t we have figured that out in the first place?