Regionalization? You May Want to Consider Who is Standing With You
As Andrew highlighted in his signature coverage of the Rhode Island Republican Assembly Endorsement Convention, the campaign platform of Republican gubernatorial candidate Victor Moffitt includes regionalization.
Audience Question: Unions and union contracts are out of control. What can we do to give more autonomy to the communities?
Answer: “I’m actually going to say that I think the problem is the opposite of that. As most of you know, I’ve been talking about regionalization and consolidation services since 1998….How good would Rhode Island be if we could replace 36 teacher contracts with 4? If we could replace 80 fire contracts with 5? Do you think that would be a little improvement for the state of Rhode Island?”
But OSPRI outlines the pitfalls; inter alia,
When comparing fully regionalized districts to similar size town districts we find that regionalized districts have the highest per pupil costs. One example is the Chariho Regional School District which was put together from three towns to make a school district whose student body is the same size as neighboring Westerly. But, the supposed economies of scale are nowhere on display in Chariho where administration costs per pupil are $825, forty percent more than the $589 spent in Westerly.
Indeed, when it comes to administration costs, the supposed venue for obvious savings, they are well above the median in ALL the regionalized districts.
More alarming (… or not, depending upon your perspective), in yesterday’s Providence Journal, Linda Borg reports on two other individuals who support regionalization.
The leaders of the state’s two teachers’ unions said that they would not be opposed to consolidating Rhode Island’s 36 school districts into one big district.
Although they cautioned that they were speaking as private citizens, Marcia Reback, president of the Rhode Island Federation of Teachers, and Robert A. Walsh Jr., executive director of the National Education Association, Rhode Island, offered the most radical suggestions about how to fix public education. The two made their remarks at a morning-long forum in Smithfield sponsored by the Rhode Island Public Expenditure Council.
Non-special interest supporters of regionalization like Mr. Moffitt (not to pick on him; he is not the only person to propose regionalization as a way to control costs but is one of the higher profile people to do so recently) presume that the hands into which thirty six contracts would be consolidated will act/negotiate/execute in the fiscal best interest of the taxpayer. Clearly, special interest advocates have determined that, on the contrary, it is they who would benefit from such an arrangement. Especially as it is the paid professionals representing that special interest who have reached this conclusion, I’m inclined to defer to their judgement