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Explore savings of merged school administrations

For a while this year, it was looking bleak that neither Southington nor Windham school districts would be able to field seventh- and eighth-grade football teams.

On the varsity level, Southington officials announced they simply do not have enough students to fill the roster on a varsity football team this year. Southington Superintendent Rocco Nero said recently, “We just don’t have the numbers to have our own team.”

On the junior high level, Windham and Southington school districts agreed in recent weeks to merge their resources and create a united junior high school football team.

While the lack of a complete football team is a good way to get readers’ attention, the issue certainly isn’t the only challenge that comes with operating a small school district.

Small school districts, limited finances and rural populations that limit the enrollment are all reasons that went into other good decisions by the two neighboring districts also to share a school treasurer.

We understand the struggles of operating a small school district, with limited enrollment and funding. That’s why we propose going one step further by exploring efforts to merging all management and administrative costs in the school districts.

Consider this: Trumbull County, with a population of less than 200,000, operates 20 public school districts. By comparison, neighboring Mahoning County has nearly 230,000 residents, but only 14 public school districts. Ashtabula County, to the north, has more than 97,000 residents and seven public school districts.

Certainly, the costs and benefits of possibly merging smaller Trumbull County districts — or at the very least, the administration — is a topic worth exploration.

Let’s face it, just because we’ve been doing things the same way for years doesn’t always mean it is the best way to get the job done.

Indeed, combined resources, shared superintendents and treasurers could save these school districts and taxpayers significant funds.

But it goes beyond finances.

As local population and enrollments decline, we all should be asking what’s the future of each local school district.

The idea may not be popular, at least at first, but it certainly is worth researching. And that probably is way overdue.

editorial@tribtoday.com

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