Path Home Shows 2015 Show Archive November 2015 Show 1547 Byron Schlomach - Rural School Costs

Byron Schlomach - Rural School Costs

Bigger school districts aren’t necessarily more cost-efficient.
Byron Schlomach - Rural School Costs

Byron Schlomach - Rural School Costs

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1889 Institute

Oklahoma Department of Education

Show Details

Show 1547: Byron Schlomach - Rural School Costs
Air Date: November 22, 2015



Rob McClendon: Well, statewide there are 517 traditional school districts and then another 30 charter schools that are funded by state dollars. And of those, about 300 have fewer than 500 students districtwide. Now, Oklahoma also has a dozen mega-districts whose student populations are between 10,000 and 40,000 students. And when it comes to state spending, Byron Schlomach with the Conservative 1889 Institute says economies of scale do not necessarily hold true when it comes to education.

Byron Schlomach: The highest spending districts on a per student basis are those very large districts. People tend to think that the small districts are the ones that are inefficient because every one of those 300 districts has to have administrators. And so the administrative bloat must be tremendous. The fact is that those very small districts spend more money total on instruction than the very largest districts, and those smallest districts spend less per student than those very largest districts. And the largest districts spend the lowest percentage on instruction than any other of those size classes. The other thing to point out is that those smallest districts only spend about 13 percent of all the money spent on public education in Oklahoma. The largest districts spend 40 percent of all the money spent in public education in Oklahoma. So if there’s a place to save money, it’s in those large districts. If anything we probably ought to be talking less about consolidating districts, which I hear a lot about, and more about splitting up these really large districts.

Rob: Well, with the passage of House Bill 1017, there are financial incentives for newly consolidated school districts. And since the Education Reform Bill was passed in 1990, over 80 schools have annexed or consolidated. Now, when we return, we’ll examine the economic struggle school districts with large tracts of untaxable property can often face.