When it Comes to School Districts, Bigger Leads to Bigger Problems

Courtney Williams's picture
Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Being a product of the public school system in Northern Ohio, my education came from a system that had less than 30,000 students and only one high school. It was governed by a Board of Education elected by the residents of our city and administrated by a superintendent hired by the board, all of whom were important parts of the community in which the students lived.

Fast forward twenty years and I am an adult with children of my own who are attending a system very similar to the one I was brought up in. As a young businessman, I couldn’t help but think that the duplication of services among the small cities would be more economical if systems were combined into larger entities to share such services as superintendent, management, bus service, food service, board of education and human resources. It just made sense to my business instincts.

I moved to Atlanta in late 1977 and was introduced to just that type of school system. I have learned a lot in the 35 years I have been involved as a parent, volunteer and ultimately a member of the elected nine-member Board of Education. Bigger is not always better.

The Georgia legislature changed the way systems would do business and amended the state constitution to mandate that all school systems would be countywide except for those few systems within the state that already were defined by city limits. In most cases, this change has been successful in accomplishing strong, effectively run systems. But in the case of the large urban systems it has caused a breakdown of success.

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