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At the opposite extreme, 14 states have more than 300 public school districts.

Legislatures in many states are considering whether merging smaller school districts would be a cost-effective way to cut costly overhead expenses and improve academic services.

In many areas, however, there is fierce resistance to consolidation from parents who prefer small, community-based school systems.

When school districts talk about school consolidation—merging two or more smaller school districts into one larger system—parents usually object to efforts to relinquish their small community schools.

“Variance in property tax rates is a key barrier to reorganization,” the position statement concludes.

“Citizens in some districts would have to significantly increase their taxes in order to reorganize with neighboring districts.” In Iowa, according to the Association of School Boards, the school funding system requires all contiguous districts to independently pass a bond issue at a 60 percent supermajority to build a joint facility.

Shakrani concluded Michigan could save more than 0 million per year at the county level and an additional 8 million at the state level—all without closing any schools.

Facing mounting budget shortfalls and searching desperately for avenues to cut spending, some state leaders have examined possible savings by forcing smaller districts to close.

Shakrani’s study points out that, although the pace of school consolidation has slowed significantly across the nation since the 1970s, some states—such as Indiana, Maine New Jersey, New York and Vermont— provide financial support designed to encourage district reorganization, typically in the form of consolidation.

In contrast, about 16 states use school aid formulas that compensate school districts for sparse enrollment or small size and thereby discourage consolidation.

The number of school districts varies widely from state to state.

Hawaii, for instance, has a single statewide school system.

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