School consolidation proposal pitched to legislative budget subcommittees

State Superintendent Mike Flanagan 

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Mike Flanagan presented his hybrid school consolidation plan to the House and Senate Appropriations School Aid and Education Subcommittees this week.

“Currently, 55 school districts are in deficit. I think it would be over 100 before long,” Flanagan said. “We can’t continue to deal with these deficit districts one at a time. We need to save money where we can, and I know that one size doesn't fit all. But my plan is to start the discussion.”

The hybrid plan focuses on consolidating non-instructional school services, like transportation, food service and administration.

State Rep. Brandon Dillon, D-Grand Rapids, said consolidation should only be done to eliminate inefficiencies.

“If we’re going to do this it needs to be done very carefully,” Dillon said, according to the Detroit News. “Don’t do consolidation for consolidation sake.”

MEA favors providing a clearer, more consistent structure to the process of consolidating school districts. The current hodgepodge of mechanisms and rules for consolidation fails to provide for a smooth transition into consolidated operations.

Instead, the consolidation process should be streamlined, creating one well-designed path to consolidation that local school boards and communities can vote to approve. This process should provide for adequate time to create the new district, should preserve employees’ jobs to the degree needed for the new district, and preserve the job rights and representation for employees consistent with state law.