For a while this year, it looked grim that neither Southington nor Windham school districts would be able to field seventh and eighth grade football teams.
At the college level, Southington officials have announced that they simply don’t have enough students to fill a college football team’s roster this year. Southington Superintendent Rocco Nero recently said: “We just don’t have the numbers to have our own team.”
At the junior high school level, the Windham and Southington school districts have agreed in recent weeks to merge their resources and create a united junior high school football team.
While the lack of a full football team is a good way to grab the attention of readers, the problem is certainly not the only challenge in operating a small school district.
Small school districts, limited finances, and rural populations that limit enrollment are all reasons behind other good decisions from the two neighboring districts to also share a school treasurer.
We understand the challenges of operating a small school district with limited enrollment and funding. This is why we propose to go further by exploring efforts to merge all management and administration costs in school districts.
Consider this: Trumbull County, with a population of less than 200,000, manages 20 public school districts. By comparison, neighboring Mahoning County has nearly 230,000 residents, but only 14 public school districts. Ashtabula County in the north has over 97,000 residents and seven public school districts.
Certainly, the costs and benefits of the possible amalgamation of smaller Trumbull County districts – or at the very least, administration – is a topic worth exploring.
Let’s face it, just because we’ve been doing things the same way for years, doesn’t mean it’s still 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 the local population and enrollment decline, we should all be asking ourselves what the future holds for each local school district.
The idea might not be popular, at least initially, but it’s definitely worth researching. And it’s probably well overdue.