But being true to our schools comes with a price, and it runs in the millions of dollars.Michigan has 550 public districts — and about 550 superintendents, business managers and transportation directors.
This “shared services” model puts all public school transportation, food service and operations and maintenance at the county level.
The Press and seven affiliated newspapers commissioned the MSU study amid a growing state and national debate about school consolidation and cost cutting.
Nearly every state has recently considered reducing the number of districts.
Maine, especially, has taken a hard look at consolidations to resemble countywide districts in place in Florida, Maryland and Virginia. Consolidation advocates include the National Governors Association.
Michigan has the nation’s fifth-highest number of school districts.
And with shrinking state revenues and rising legacy costs in the state, top leaders such as state Superintendent Michael Flanagan and business advocacy groups are calling for shared services. Former state Superintendent Tom Watkins, Flanagan’s predecessor, is a forceful voice for consolidation.“Maybe the way things are set up now was good public policy and made sense 20 years ago, when the money was there.There’s nothing wrong with paying people a nice wage and having small school districts,” Watkins said.We've spent the past several months exploring issues of vital interest to Michigan. • Kent County has 19 superintendents; a comparable Florida region has one. TUESDAY • How two districts share one superintendent • A day in the life of Jon Felske, superintendent of Wyoming and Godwin • What if Grand Rapids merged with East Grand Rapids?For a full overview of topics, go to mlive.com/mi10. • Dave Murray: Some possible mashups WEDNESDAY • Success story #1: Lessons from Raleigh, N.Here's a rundown of our August installment on school consolidation: SUNDAY: • What are the pros and cons of consolidation? C., where integrated schools are thriving • Success story #2: A look at the Glenn public school, K-6, with 45 students SUNDAY • Should Michigan be a one-university system, like California?