Issues and Ideas Forum, June 7, 2007

Listen to Expert Speakers Over Lunch

The Mackinac Center for Public Policy is pleased to host monthly Issues & Ideas Forums in Lansing. These luncheons, which feature experts on a diverse array of subjects, offer a forum that enhances and broadens the policy debate to include theoretical and philosophical ideals — and suggestions for achieving them.

Legislators, staff, news media and other interested friends are cordially invited to the


“School District Consolidation: A Money Saver?”


Andrew J. Coulson
Director, Center for Educational Freedom, Cato Institute,
Adjunct Fellow, Mackinac Center for Public Policy


Thursday, June 7, 2007


12:00 - 1:00 p.m.


The Mackinac Room, 5th Floor, House Office Building
124 North Capitol, Lansing


Lunch is provided at no charge, with reservation.

The governor, policymakers and several editorial boards have proposed consolidating small school districts as a way to save money in the state and school budgets. Proponents of district consolidation suggest that forced mergers would save money by taking advantage of “economies of scale” among the larger resulting districts.

The Mackinac Center for Public Policy recently released an empirical study that found that savings from consolidating small districts would be limited and probably difficult to capture. The study, conducted by Andrew J. Coulson, director of the Center for Educational Freedom at the Cato Institute and adjunct fellow with the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, found that the optimal size for school districts in Michigan is approximately 2,900 students. Redrawing the boundaries of smaller districts to achieve districts of optimal size would theoretically save about $31 million in annual operating costs, but as Coulson notes in the study, “There would seem to be little chance of coming close to that theoretical maximum.” The practical difficulties include the challenge of shifting the boundaries of several hundred Michigan school districts.

At the forum, Coulson will present his results and answer questions from the audience.

The luncheon begins promptly at noon. To make reservations for yourself and your guests, please call the Mackinac Center at (989) 631-0900 by 5 p.m. on May 31.

The Purpose of the Issues & Ideas Forum

The nature of the legislative process is such that public policy debates are often framed by specific constituencies and political pragmatism rather than by sound principles. On occasion, these principles are most effectively conveyed by a single case study. By offering a forum for wide-ranging discussion, the Mackinac Center for Public Policy hopes to broaden the debate to include theoretical and philosophical ideals — and how to achieve them. The best interests of Michigan citizens can be served only when legislation incorporates our best understanding of legal, economic, psychological, moral and scientific principles.


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