How Big is Too Big?

Image“The century-old trend towards school consolidation and ever bigger schools is driven by a peculiar logic. School consolidators, posing as modernizers and progressives, tend to rely upon a few standard lines.

“Student enrollment has dropped, so we cannot afford to keep your small school open. Now don’t get emotional on us. It simply comes down to a matter of dollars and cents.”

What’s wrong with this conventional school planning and design logic?  A growing body of North American education research on the “dollars and sense” of school sizeis exploding the myth and now suggest that smaller scale schools are not only better for students but, more surprisingly, more cost effective for school boards.  Whereas school consolidation and “economies-of-scale” were once merely accepted truths, supported by little evidence, newer studies are demonstrating that true small schools also deliver better results in academic achievement, high school completion rates, student safety and social connectedness….”


11 responses to “How Big is Too Big?

  1. Easton is a perfect example of how small schools are able to strive for the best. Their enrollment is under 80 students in the high school, yet they have one of the top math and science programs in the state! They have advanced math curriculum and a “mathletes” team. Bigger is NOT always better, and RSU 50 proves as a huge example for this.


    • Bigger is NOT better is it?

      Sadly the Board and Administration will never consider the sort of cost-effective strategies that work in Easton to benefit Katahdin students, because they stem the flow of money from Katahdin’s communities into Dyer Brook….

      I know parents would be VERY interested in a picture of how things work in Easton and in other small schools.


      • Yes! that is for sure. The data shows that Easton is doing something right!


        • There is an abundance of lessons in Easton, and elsewhere that small schools thrive.

          We won’t benefit from those until the goals change; until we decide once and for all that kids in small schools deserve the sort of education that is the pride of Easton.

          Stop looking at small schools in your neighboring town as something to simply liquidate in order to lower taxes, or solve problems in your own. It won’t work, and you will hurt kids and taxpayers alike.


  2. Exactly, We need out of the RSU.


    • You do have more options out of the RSU, and can still share as much as you ever did. The law does provide for separate school committees in the RSU, and I don’t know if that would provide the sort of advocacy you need to defend Katahdin’s interests here… …until you can get out of the RSU.

      You will never be able to trust this administration to serve the interests of children: you cannot invest in kids and fiscally strangle the school they attend; you cannot do what is best for kids and simultaneously liquidate their school around them. In fact, the better you do by kids, the harder it is to close the school!

      You cannot serve both the interests of Katahdin communities, and those surrounding SACS who want all of the RSU money. The pressure to bus kids out of the community will continue, as there is money for others at the end of those bus rides. Why would they even consider child-centered strategies that don’t involve shifting money from one community to the other?


  3. You are so right you cannot trust this administration at all. It is so sad. Too much bureaucracy and not enough educating.


    • The cries from the community, to take resources away from administration and put them toward things that matter to kids…. Ignored!

      Mr. Malone said in his letter that the “..only…” avenue for savings is “..elimination of duplication of services…” (dog-whistle for “liquidate your school, then send us your kids and money. Surrrrrrre… We’ll spend it on your kids…. Yeahhhhhhhh…)

      Remember last year? …when he told me and others that he had “no choice” but to cut faculty, then proceeded to hire layers of administration that didn’t previously exist; consultants’ fees….

      There are choices. The ones we want, though, keep our money and kids in town.


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