Con: Smaller offers better individual care, sense of community

Carolina Astrain By Carolina Astrain

July 21, 2013 at 2:21 a.m.
Updated July 22, 2013 at 2:22 a.m.

More than 30 years ago when Diana Rhodes heard Nursery leadership was considering joining the Victoria school district, she immediately sprang into action.

"I was so against it that I ran for school board president," Rhodes said. "We have a wonderful school district and a great staff. Why would we want to consolidate and lose our community?"

Opponents to county school district consolidation believe it would mean losing the identities and regional control those smaller communities have fostered throughout the years.

Nursery school district has 118 students in kindergarten through fifth grades.

"Our kids do great on testing, we have good teachers, and we like that our secondary education is in Cuero," Rhodes said. "Consolidation is not even a word in my vocabulary."

The Nursery school district maintains an agreement with the Cuero school district, which is outside of Victoria County, to directly channel its fifth-grade students into DeWitt County.

Cuero school districts provide transportation to Nursery students living in Victoria County.

"There's no reason to look at it or think about it," Rhodes said. "We're happy with the way it is."

Additional administrative costs aside, Rhodes said, the investment is worth every penny.

"We just completed a new building several years ago, and we're proud of it," Rhodes said.

Jack Goins, the former superintendent and principal of the now-defunct McFaddin school district, said smaller schools do a better job than larger districts.

"At our school, we had a graduation rate of 75 to 85 percent," Goins said.

The McFaddin district went into bankruptcy and closed around 1990, Goins said.

Students living in the area are now a part of the Refugio school district.

"They were talking about building a power plant here," Goins said. "If they had built that, then we would have survived."

Finances aside, there are also cultural issues to consider when looking at consolidating school districts.

As a high school student in the 1970s, Doug Moss, 56, of Victoria, remembers being bused to an inner-city school in San Antonio after his district consolidated.

Moss said he believes county consolidation would not bring more money into the classrooms; it would be just be spent on more administrators, he said.

"When the administration gets bigger, it loses touch of what's happening on a local level," Moss said.

Glenn Mueller, Nordheim school board president, said smaller districts do a better job of meeting the needs of its at-risk students.

"If they need special help, we get it to them," Mueller said. "We nurture, straighten them out and graduate them."

Nordheim school district has 113 students in grades kindergarten through 12.

Cathy Booth, the Nixon-Smiley school district superintendent, said the road to consolidation for her district was not a smooth one.

Nixon-Smiley has 1,064 students in grades pre-kindergarten through 12.

"We're here 30 years later, and there are still hard feelings about Smiley feeling misrepresented," Booth said.

One year, Booth said, parents threatened to send their kids to graduation in red robes to protest the blue gowns planned to be used under the consolidated district.

"So we switched to black gowns," Booth said. "Although consolidation may seem like a good idea, the emotions may not be worth it."

Pro: Bigger means better instruction, more bang for tax dollars



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