A friend of McHenry County Blog adds this to the discussion:
It is often argued (by members of high school district boards) that it is inherently more expensive to educate high school students than elementary school students.
There is no logical explanation for this position.
Those who wish to teach elementary students major in education.
Those who wish to teach high school students major in their subject area and take correspondingly fewer education classes. Both elementary and high school teachers require only a bachelor’s degree and a teaching certificate.
The proof is in the pudding.
In the school year ending June 30, 2013, the most recent year for which the state publishes comprehensive data on all school districts:
- elementary school districts spent an average of $11,682 per student
- unit school districts (K12) spent an average of $11,540 per student
- but high school districts spent an average of $15,063 per student
Basically, unit districts are able to keep the cost of their high schools down.
But in high school districts, expenditures per pupil are 31% higher.
Would consolidation lower costs?
Consolidation would result in much larger unit districts, and the statistics are clear that larger school districts spend more, per pupil,
than smaller districts.
Those who think there should be economies of scale in government are fooled because they argue by analogy to business.
Government isn’t business.
Business has a profit motive, a reason to minimize costs, which is why there are economies of scale.
Governments have no such motive.
In fact, quite the opposite.
Government bureaucrats get paid more in larger departments, so they have a financial incentive to grow spending.
Second, any consolidation would result in union contracts being renegotiated at the HIGHER salary scale, increasing costs dramatically.
So why are our high school districts so much more costly?
Basically because the law permits them to levy more, relative to their size, than elementary districts, and so, of course, they have all levied to the limit.
The solution is to replace the existing high school district trustees with people who are taxpayer advocates instead of people who identify with the bureaucracy.