A couple weeks ago, the editor wrote about the consolidation of police departments for the sake of the taxpayer and to strengthen the departments. I applauded - loudly; unfortunately, only my husband heard me.
I'd like to carry the idea of consolidation over to another facet of community life that could use a major adjustment: school systems.
There are three school districts all within about three miles of my house. Two of the districts have three schools; one has four. Two of the districts are so close they share the same ZIP code. That does not compute for me.
All the districts have a board of education and a superintendent. All the superintendents make just a little short of $100,000 per year.
For further reference, there are 20 school districts total in Trumbull County, plus the Trumbull Career and Technical Center in Champion. Leading the pack is the TC Educational Service Center, formerly known as the TC Board of Education.
All that said, let's begin. ...
First off, I was thinking that the purpose of the TCESC, since it seems to be at the top of the ladder with all the districts under it, would be as a district organizer. It was my thought that they would bring everyone under one umbrella with purchasing power for all, negotiated to the best terms possible.
It seemed reasonable to me to expect this because doing so would save all the districts and the taxpayers a bunch of money.
I was wrong. They don't do that. You can read for yourself what they do on their website: www.trumbullesc.org/ouresc.aspx.
I'm sure they will tell you that what they offer is valuable to us. And I'm sure it is, possibly in the same way that what Congress does is valuable to us, the taxpayer, the people who pays their salaries.
Now, back to those first three school systems.
Why are they stand-alone systems when they are so close in proximity to one another? Originally, maybe it had something to do with the mode of transportation: horses and wagons. That's not an issue now.
Wouldn't it make more sense fiscally to band together? Pull at least two of the systems - especially the two sharing the same ZIP code - into one and have six schools together. You could probably build a new high school in the middle and bring that number down to five.
There would have to be a financial savings involved; just eliminating one superintendent would save $100,000. Instead of two systems buying randomly, you would have one system taking advantage of economy of scale and getting lower prices.
They might save so much money that they wouldn't need to sneak through a levy in mid-August when everyone who votes is on vacation. That would be refreshing. (Yes, we noticed that you did that. We're not as stupid as you think.)
To me, the biggest local bully is often the school system. When you don't get what you want, what do you do? Lower administrative salaries? No. You take it out on the kids, cutting their programs, getting them to campaign for you, even sending them door to door. Just like Congress who didn't have a work stoppage this week when a budget extension wasn't agreed upon, administrations insulate themselves from feeling the pain.
That being said, it is also precisely why these school systems will not band together. No one wants to give up their perceived power. Not for the good of the students, nor for the good of the community. Because of this unwillingness to collaborate and consolidate, nobody wins and everybody loses. And that's too bad.
Jagunic is a Cortland resident. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.