By Tali Zangari
Asst. Opinions Editor
Recently, PA Governor Ed Rendell unveiled a proposal which he believes will save money and help the state’s public schools attain success. Perhaps the biggest part of Rendell’s plan is consolidating the states 501 school districts into 100 much larger districts.
This 80 percent cut is leaving many people concerned about their districts and whether or not superintendants and school boards will have any say in the matter at all. Another major concern is that this consolidation would also cause students to feel less important or lost in the crowd.
Rendell claims that Pennsylvania doesn’t need over 500 school districts, and that we cannot afford them in today’s struggling economy. There are, however, not going to be any immediate changes to the state’s school districts. Rendell called for a legislative commission, the goal of which would be to conduct a study for the next year to test the effectiveness of consolidation. Rendell also believes that if the school districts were to be consolidated, pressure on local property taxes and school taxes would be alleviated.
While superintendents and school boards do not want to jump to any conclusions, they are all trying to get more information on this proposal, and one of the most important issues to consider is the needs of the individual students. Some districts in the state already cover more than 154 square miles and the thought of increasing district size makes some school boards uncomfortable. Some superintendents say that the proposal is lacking detail in many areas, including special programs and advanced programs. Not everyone, however, is against the proposal. Some school board members feel that the plan is worth looking into if it can save the state money and still provide a good education for the students.
Although school districts were consolidated in 1955 from 2,700 to 1,900 and then further in 1962 to 600 districts, people hardly find this a comfort. Many wonder how much further the state is going to push the consolidations. The understanding among most school officials is that they will keep their schools, and become part of a larger whole, rather than building new district schools. If district buildings are built to replace the schools already in existence, then students could expect larger class sizes, which would make it more difficult for teachers to ensure that all students are achieving “Adequate Yearly Progress,” a requirement under “No Child Left Behind.”
Although this change will not take place until after the proper research is made, this is a change that will surely effect many students at Bloomsburg University who both live in PA and who plan on teaching in the state. Due to time constraints, The Voice was unable to receive a response form the governor’s office.