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Committee on splitting up school districts does not recommend division

After months of work, a committee tasked with studying how to divide school districts concluded Wednesday without recommending the break-up of large systems such as Wake or Mecklenburg County. 

No evidence exists that there is any relation between the size of a district and academic performance, according to a report approved by the Joint Legislative Study Committee on the Division of Local School Administrative Units. 

“The data was really all over the map,” said Rep. William Brawley, R-Mecklenburg

The committee quickly approved the draft report —which will be presented to the General Assembly — with only a few questions and no discussion. The report includes a review of all committee presentations thus far, as well as findings and recommendations. 

The committee first met in February and heard from a variety of experts, education leaders, and others about the potential challenges to splitting up large school districts, the process it might take, and the impact it might have. 

The report approved today includes seven findings and recommendations. In addition to pointing out the lack of evidence correlating the size of a district with academic performance, it also stated that an inference can be made that smaller school size can have a positive impact. Other findings pointed out concerns over equity if larger districts were broken up, as well as the need for further study if legislation were proposed to create a process to do so.

“Concerns about equity were taken very seriously,” Brawley said. Though he pointed out that some of the discussion revolved around whether the breaking-up process would create inequities or simply highlight inequities already present in the larger system.

The findings and conclusions in the report also include a paragraph on how presenters at prior meetings discussed the benefit of consolidating certain services in smaller districts to save money and for efficiency. The report recommends a review of previous studies on the issue to determine the merit of further implementation.

The report’s conclusions also references “decision-points,” which are issues that would need to be considered carefully before breaking up a school district. Brawley said the committee could not address all those issues responsibly in the time the committee had to meet. 

Alex Granados

Alex Granados is senior reporter for EducationNC.