Mississippi Eyes District Consolidation

Last Updated: November 29, 2009

This article appeared in the November 2009 Rural Policy Matters.
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A school improvement task force in Mississippi is forming a subcommittee to examine school district consolidation as a means for reducing education costs in the state in light of the budget shortfall. At least one state representative from the consolidated Vicksburg area has called for district consolidation, citing administration costs as cutting into classroom spending.
A 2005 study found that Mississippi districts are relatively similar in average size to the U.S. average and did not find any correlation between district size and student spending.
Opponents point out that the percentage of school funding represented by district administration costs is small in the overall education budget and that there is no clear evidence that consolidation improves academic performance. In fact, according to both the Rural Trust and the Southern Regional Education Board, larger districts have lower attendance, lower student grade point averages, more disciplinary problems, and higher dropout rates.
The chair of the Mississippi Legislature’s House Education Committee has also pointed out that district consolidation saves little money.
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