Pennsylvania Districts Consolidate; Move to be Closely Watched

Two tiny Western Pennsylvania school districts, faced with rapidly declining enrollment, have agreed to merge in a consolidation effort that will be closely watched and evaluated.

The Center Area and the Monaca School Districts, located northwest of Pittsburgh, agreed to dissolve boundary lines in the state’s first consolidation in more than 20 years. The move, which comes as a number of states look at mergers, is part of a growing trend toward fewer school districts in the U.S.

What makes the Pennsylvania consolidation noteworthy is that it is voluntary. Both districts, which have fewer than 1,000 students each, agreed to the consolidation without state intervention. Most consolidation efforts are pushed by state legislatures eager to save money on school spending.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the number of school districts nationwide declined by 10 percent over a 20-year period that ended in 2005-06. NCES now says there are 14,166 school districts in the U.S.