Benefits consolidating schools

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Superintendents have to balance these often competing interests and allegiances in their bid to cut costs.

They were also able to increase academic opportunities by offering more Advanced Placement and preschool classes.

— When Debra Dace took the reins of the Sunflower Consolidated School District on July 1, 2014, she was handed a budget and three failing school districts that the state had recently merged into one.

Her assignment: use the merger to save money and improve performance in the new district, which housed schools that had produced some of the lowest test scores in the state for years. With only a month to prepare before the start of the school year, there were few cost-cutting measures Dace could undertake without igniting a firestorm in the community.

And hardly anything changed: “No schools were closed, nothing was rezoned,” Dace said.

“Basically my transportation director just joined both [bus] fleets.” So that first year of consolidation, the district didn’t save any money.

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