Maybe consolidating York County's 15 school districts at the administrative level would save tax dollars.

Maybe it wouldn't -- or at least not enough to justify such a drastic change.

That's what the county's Republican delegation intends to find out by asking the state's Independent Fiscal Office to study the idea.

The idea is to form one countywide school board and one property tax rate for a 15-district super-district, while drastically reducing the number of higher-level administrators, according to state Rep. Seth Grove, R-Dover Township, who's leading the effort.

There would be no changes at the school level, with students, teachers and principals remaining in place while operating under one calendar.

With 500 districts in Pennsylvania, school consolidation is not a new concept.

In 2009, researchers and educators told a state Education Committee the timing was right for consolidations to reduce costs and improve education. That came on the heels of then-Gov. Ed Rendell's call for consolidating from 500 to 100 districts to correct inequities in academic performance and property taxes.

However, polls at the time found most Pennsylvanians -- while unhappy with school property taxes -- were opposed to consolidation, and Rendell's plan went nowhere.

Perhaps now is actually the time.

Nearly four years after that initial push, school property taxes continue to increase, while the state has drastically cut funding.


Taxpayers need to find savings where ever they might be, even if that means a loss of a school's identity or slightly larger class sizes -- neither of which is a given.

In fact, Grove said, by focusing solely on administrators, his plan avoids the "Everybody loves their mascot" school loyalty concern and if students and teachers remained at their existing schools class sizes shouldn't change much at all.

It makes sense to look to school administrations. If savings are to be found, surely they are here.

There are 214 administrators -- ranging from superintendents and assistant superintendents to directors of curriculum and business managers -- in the 15-district study area, Grove said.

And each administration does exactly the same thing.

It seems to be wasteful redundancy, to the tune of $45 million per year -- or 4 percent to 6 percent of each school district's budget.

We say "seems to be" because we understand looks can be deceiving.

State Rep. Ron Miller, for example, isn't convinced.

The Jacobus Republican and former Dallastown Area school board member cited studies showing Maryland's countywide school system cost more per student than York's system.

"But everybody always points to other states with countywide school systems and says, 'If we did it, it would save millions and millions of dollars,'" Miller said. "Theoretically, one superintendent instead of (15) would save you money. That sounds great, but I'm not sure it is accurate. This study should help to prove it one way or another."

We can't ask for much more than that.

Oh wait ...

If consolidation does prove feasible, think how many more tax dollars could be saved if it's paired with property tax reform.