District Administration October 2017 - 60

ProfessionalOpinion
Calculating the savings
of consolidation
Determine how much your district can save by combining schools
By Jay C. Toland

A

s a cost-saving measure, consolidation can help save a struggling district. Consolidation
can take two forms. In the first, a district grappling with declining revenues
has no choice but to reduce costs or
face insolvency. Declining revenues can
come from a declining tax base, downturn in the economy or the loss of a
major employer in the community.
In the second, a district has declining
student enrollment, in which case the
actual footprint shrinks. Such a decline
could be attributed to population shift,
or movement to non-traditional public
schools and a shift to private schools.
More ways than one
Consolidation may be implemented in
any number of ways. For example: Two
schools consolidate into one new building; one school joins an existing school
with the construction of a wing or additional buildings; or two schools may be
consolidated into a vacated building.
No matter the situation, the mathematical foundation and formulas for
calculating cost savings from consolidation are the same. Two parts to figuring
cost savings for a district include personnel and non-personnel. Most savings
will come from reducing staff.
Calculating personnel savings
Redundancy in clerical staff often occurs when schools consolidate. There
may be, for example, two bookkeepers,

DAmag.me/save

60 October 2017

The factor that
contributes most to cost
savings associated with
school consolidation is
the reduction in staff.
two attendance clerks or two secretaries
when the schools merge. So it's important to estimate the diversity components of newly consolidated schools. If
the new school has a high population
of disadvantaged or homeless students,
for example, you may need two social
workers despite a typical allocation of
one per school.
Classroom ratios
Next, calculate further savings using
student-teacher ratios. Divide the number of students in a classroom by the
number allocated per teacher by the district before and after consolidation, and
compare the difference (if any).
For example, if the second grade at
two pre-consolidation schools has 30
students per classroom, and if the district allocates one teacher for every 20
students, each school should receive two
teachers for the second grade. If those
schools consolidate and 60 students are
in second grade, the consolidated school
should receive three teachers, one fewer
than before consolidation.
Non-personnel savings
While most savings will come from
personnel, non-personnel costs should
also be considered. Utility spending

should decrease if a building closes in
a consolidation. This can be calculated
by subtracting the cost of utilities for a
consolidated school building from the
cost of utilities of the previous unconsolidated school buildings.
Personnel and non-personnel savings may be combined in some areas.
Savings might exist in transportation,
for example, especially if school buses
had been operating at half capacity
at existing schools. At a consolidated
school, fewer buses-now operating at
full capacity-means fewer drivers on
the clock (personnel) as well as less fuel
being consumed (non-personnel) and
can lead to significant cost savings.
Likewise, custodial services at a
consolidated school could show savings.
To determine savings, compare the cost
for custodial services per square foot
before and after consolidation. Costper-square-foot at a given school can be
calculated by adding the cost for payroll
(personnel) and supplies (non-personnel) and dividing that by the total number of square feet.
Conclusion
Political and community forces can
contribute to the success or failure of a
consolidation. Earn community buy-in
by making every step transparent, with
public meetings to address questions
and demonstrate savings. This can build
positive momentum in the community
and district. DA

Jay C. Toland is the chief financial officer
for Scotland County Schools in Laurinburg,
North Carolina.

District Administration


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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of District Administration October 2017

District Administration October 2017 - Cover1
District Administration October 2017 - Cover2
District Administration October 2017 - 1
District Administration October 2017 - 2
District Administration October 2017 - 3
District Administration October 2017 - 4
District Administration October 2017 - 5
District Administration October 2017 - 6
District Administration October 2017 - 7
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District Administration October 2017 - Cover3
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