On AJC “Get Schooled” Blog – Commissioner Nancy Jester Speaks Out on School Districts

Opinion: The state should allow new school districts. Smaller districts get it right.

Georgia’s leaders and policy makers should be asking if the very school district structure that is hard coded into our state constitution is serving us well. They should be seeking to maximize student achievement and be concerned with the return on investment for each dollar of public spending. Are academic results maximized and expenses kept in check with properly sized school districts?

Now, no matter what circumstances change, we are locked into the same 180 delivery vehicles – school districts – for education. There is clear and compelling evidence that educational outcomes for students and the cost to deliver education are affected by the size of the school district in which they attend.

Elected officials and policy wonks should rejoice there is clear alignment between getting the best results for children and protecting the taxpayers’ wallets.

So, what does the evidence tell us? Based on studies from multiple states (Washington, Ohio, California, Michigan, and Nevada) we know that larger school districts have a negative effect on student achievement and produce higher costs per pupil than smaller districts. The effects on achievement are even more profound for students in poverty.

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