Buildings hinder goal to combine districts

Fans of more cost-effective government likely were heartened by the news Old Fort and Bettsville local school districts again are working to share services and employees in order to save money and serve students.

It’s tempting to ponder the potential for similar cooperative efforts, if not outright consolidation, on a statewide basis. After all, Ohio has some 611 school districts. That means 600-some superintendents, plus perhaps twice that many principals, as well as assistants, treasurers, athletic directors. …

But even if state legislators and administrators could ignore parochial and political interests and divide Ohio into more efficient school districts – and that’s far from certain, judging by the shape of our electoral districts – those state bureaucrats would encounter a structural challenge to such an effort.

That obstacle would be school buildings.

Already, more than half of all public school districts in Ohio have built, or are constructing, additions or entire buildings. In some big-city districts, the work involves more than one facility.

In The A-T circulation area, four districts consolidated all grade levels under one roof with new construction. Two others constructed new K-12 schools. Two junior high schools were replaced with one middle school in Tiffin.

As the Ohio School Facilities Commission continues its work, school systems in Ohio are less likely to be consolidated in order to gain economies of scale.

Changes we are likely to see are those being pursued in Bettsville and Old Fort, and by the North Central Ohio Educational Service Center.