A new study just released by the Fraser Institute reports that there is no evidence to show that amalgamation of local government can produce greater cost savings than the voluntary sharing of services (https://goo.gl/VgG5fJ). Although the study focused on the municipalities of Greater Victoria BC, I believe its conclusions can also be applied to Boards of Education/School Boards and the local governance of public education.
The threat of amalgamation has hung over the heads of school districts for decades – a concept occasionally trotted out by various provincial governments as a cost savings measure – and sometimes to bring more vociferous boards back into line. Many provincial school board associations have argued against the false economics of amalgamation and more importantly, the negative impact it would have on the local representation of parents, students and the community as a whole.
The Fraser Institute study shows that a more viable option to bring about greater efficiency is the voluntary sharing of services among neighbouring municipalities. Voluntary sharing of services has long been advocated by the BC School Trustees Association (BCSTA), and many BC school districts do in fact share services with other districts as well as their local municipal/regional governments.
While public education stakeholders have not always seen eye to eye with the Fraser Institute, this recent study provides a degree of vindication for public education advocates in their long held position that amalgamation does not work, and that local governance keeps the public in public education.
Stephen Hansen (firstname.lastname@example.org)