……except that it does, almost inevitably. Former Governor Baldacci’s school district consolidation initiative, ” Local Schools Regional Support” (LSRS) was heralded with reassurances that “Schools don’t have to close….” — ad nauseum. But even the most cursory examination of LSRS policies betray the utter duplicity of those assurances, the central intention of the law to do the opposite of “support local schools”, and the back door to the then-Governor’s vision of eliminating small schools and bussing children, hub-and-spoke fashion, to large, regional campuses. …a dream that would be politically impossible to reach through the front door — for good reason. According to the research and empirical data, it would cost taxpayers and communities as well as children — dearly. Particularly telling, was LSRS original, specific prohibition on forming new districts in an AOS model, where SAUs would retain their own governance and finances, but share administrative offices and anything else determined to be mutually beneficial by the boards. A more powerful community in a district could not, essentially “vote” to liquidate the educational infrastructure of its neighbor in order to draw resources into its own; to help pay for or fill buildings old or new. In co-mingling finances and diluting board representation, the RSU model’s tendency to create winners and losers maximizes conflict; in the words of our Supt. “We’re looking in each others windows.” The necessity that decisions be mutually beneficial, though, in an AOS minimizes it. A few well-placed “…fences make good neighbors….”. Every opportunity to share remains in an AOS. The only advantage (besides fewer headaches for the Superintendent) of an RSU is the ability to close schools. The idea of an AOS appears to be quite well-received in RSU 50. Please, won’t you share your thoughts in the comments bar below? Excerpts follow, from the Rural School and Community Trust, “ALTERNATIVE WAYS TO ACHIEVE COST-EFFECTIVE SCHOOLS”, along with a link to the entire pdf.
“Best intentions and promises aside, eliminating districts almost always results in closing and consolidating schools, as well. … …Consolidating districts eliminates school boards and takes adults who want to keep schools open out of the decision-making… Eliminating Districts Means Less Democratic Accountability … Larger, more far-flung districts dilute democratic participation in schools and distance schools from the communities they serve… ….. Any plan to increase the cost-effectiveness of school districts should not be at the expense of democratic accountability.” Read the pdf in its entirety here: http://www.ruraledu.org/user_uploads/file/alternatives.pdf