Thumbs up: A chance to streamline schools

22 January 2021

Sonoma County has 40 school districts, as many as Napa, Marin and Mendocino counties combined. In fact, only four of California’s 58 counties have more school districts than Sonoma County. One of those is Los Angeles County — population 9.8 million, including about 1.4 million K-12 students. Each school district has administrative responsibilities — budgeting, payroll, record-keeping, curriculum development, etc. — on top of its primary obligation: educating children. Combining districts, and all that overhead, makes sense, never more so than in this era of declining enrollment.

Santa Rosa City Schools is a high school district serving students from nine separate elementary school districts, including Santa Rosa City Schools. Each elementary district has its own curriculum. Residents of eight of the nine feeder districts elect their own school boards, and they vote for the Santa Rosa Board of Education, meaning they get a say in governing Santa Rosa elementary schools even though their children attend class elsewhere. Santa Rosa’s school board took a step toward streamlining last week, directing the Sonoma County school superintendent to initiate a consolidation study. A similar study will soon start in the west county, which has 10 elementary districts feeding into one high school district.

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