National Rural Education Association Task Force Reports on School Consolidation

Last Updated: July 15, 2005

A task force of the National Rural Education Association has prepared a report on school consolidation for the organization's executive board. It presents an excellent summary of the history of the issue and summarizes research on the topic, concluding with a series of recommendations. In summary, the report says:
  • The educational and financial results of state mandated school district consolidations do not meet legislated expectations.
  • There is no "ideal" size for schools or districts.
  • "Size" does not guarantee success—effective schools come in all sizes.
  • Smaller districts have higher achievement, affective and social outcomes.
  • The larger a district becomes, the more resources are devoted to secondary or non-essential activities.
  • Local school officials should be wary of merging several smaller elementary schools, at least if the goal is improved performance.
  • After a school closure, out migration, population decline, and neighborhood deterioration are set in motion, and support for public education diminishes.
  • There is no solid foundation for the belief that eliminating school districts will improve education, enhance cost-effectiveness or promote equality.
  • Students from low income areas have better achievement in small schools.
Members of the task force included Joe Bard, Clark Gardener, and Regi Wieland. Read the full report online at: