Box 6, Folder 2, Document 5

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—_ Tentative


Studies of public education in the Atlanta and Fulton County school dis-
tricts have been underway most of the time since the early years following the
close of World War II. The continuous and rapid growth of the Atlanta metro-
politan area and the character of this growth have focused attention on problems
and issues many of which strongly influence the public schools. The desire of
citizens to provide educational programs of high quality has stimulated con-
stant concern for the satisfactory resolution of these problems and issues.

The quest for better schools is a thread which runs through all of the various
special studies of education during this period,

Some of the studies were authorized by one or both of the local school
boards, while others were authorized by the General Assembly of the State of
Georgia. The latest of those initiated by the General Assembly was authorized
in 1963. It created a Local Education Commission composed of nineteen citizens
from the two school districts. The Legislature empowered the Commission "to
study the desirability and feasibility of combining the school systems of
Fulton County and the City of Atlanta, including the portion thereof lying in
DeKalb County; to provide that said Commission may draft a plan or plans for
the combining of such school systems and submit same to members of the General
Assembly from Fulton and DeKalb Counties."

This Commission can profit from previous studies by taking into account

their findings and conclusions as they relate to consolidation.

The question of whether or not the Atlanta and Fulton County school dis-
tricts should be combined into a single district has been debated for a good

many years. The Local Government Commission of Fulton County gave considerable

attention to the consolidation issue in a report of its studies which was issued

in 1950. The Commission did not recommend merger of the two school systems be-
cause of (1) the "huge cost that would be involved in raising the county system
up to city salary and kindergarten standards", (2) the "vast physical job in-
volved in consolidation."

However, the Local Government Commission did not set forth educational
reasons as a justification for not recommending consolidation. The report stated
that its proposals should not stand in the path of ultimate unification of the
two school districts and expressed the view that it would be easier to effect
ecnsolidation after changes had been made which minimized the differences in
the two school systems. The Commission further expressed the view that combin-
ing of the schools would be made easier "if in the meantime the tri-cities and
the rural areas would assume a larger share of their school costs."

However, the Commission did recommend certain changes which have had a
profound effect on education in the Atlanta-Fulton County school districts.

The report, known as the Plan of Improvement, recommended greatly enlarging the
city limits of Atlanta and the consolidation of certain city and county services.
This plan, as later put into effect by the General Assembly, resulted in the
transfer of about 0 Fulton County schools and nearly half of the school en-
rollment in the County district to the school district of Atlanta. Furthermore,
72 per cent of the taxable wealth to support schools in the County district was

included in the annexation. These changes took place in 1952.


Even though the two separate school districts remained in reality, a sub-
stantial step toward consolidation took place because of the reduction in the
number of schools and in enrollment in the Fulton County district and the sub-
sequent increase in the Atlanta district. Unfortunately, severe financial
problems were created in what was left of the Fulton County school district
because of the large proportion of taxable wealth to support schools which was
- transferred into the city district. The financial woes of the Fulton County
schools have increased steadily since that time.

The General Assembly of Georgia created a Local Education Commission of
Atlanta and Fulton County in 1958 to make a study of their educational systems
and to draft a plan or plans for their improvement, submitting the plan or plans
to the members of the General Assembly from Fulton and DeKalb counties. The
- Act stated that "such study shall give full consideration to the position of
such systems within the total educational system of the State of Georgia, and
the plan or plans shall include any changes in political and administrative
and fiscal structure of either or both of such systems which the Commission
deems desirable and feasible." Thus, concern for consolidation appears in
this legislation and in the assignment of duties to the Commission.

This Commission first gave attention to the legal problems which would be
involved in consolidation, Mr. G. Stanley Joslin, Professor of Law at Emory
University, was commissioned to study the legal considerations which would be
necessary if consolidation were undertaken. Mr. Joslin prepared a memorandum
for the Commission on these matters.

The memorandum emphasized an important technical distinction between merger
and consolidation, thus indicating two distinct ways in which unification might
be achieved. Merger would involve one system becoming a part of the other,
thus taking on all the powers and limitations inherent in the system which ab-

sorbed it. Consolidation means a completely new school system which would be

created from the present Atlanta and Fulton County districts. These districts
would cease to exist when the new district came into being. The newly-created
district would be new in every respect, including provisions for a board of edu-
cation, school taxes, debt limitations, administrative officials, and operational
procedures. Mr. Joslin stated that the new system could be constituted in a way
that would permit the addition of other school systems or parts of such systems
when and if the citizens affected so desired.

No major legal difficulties need be involved in consolidating the two
systems according to Mr. Joslin. He recommended that if a decision is made to
combine the two systems, consolidation would be better than merger. If merger
were to be decided upon, fewer legal difficulties would be involved if the city
system joined the county system rather than if the county system joined the city

The Commission then turned its attention to other aspects of the consolida-
tion issue. Considerable research was conducted to determine the economic and
financial advantages and disadvantages of unifying the two districts. The
Commission became greatly interested in the educational implications of consoli-
dation. Thereafter, it viewed consolidation primarily in terms of opportuni-
ties which could be provided for improving education in the metropolitan area,

After a careful study of the advantages and disadvantages of consolidation,
the Commission decided that "consolidation is neither desirable nor practicable
at this time." It went on to state that "consolidation will be much more feas-
ible, in our judgment, if and when (a) the two separate systems have adopted
similar policies with respect to kindergartens, (b) teacher pay scales of the
two systems are either identical or at least much closer together than at present,

(c) citizens of the Fulton County school district have voted to eliminate the

Homestead Exemption for school operating tax purposes, and (d) the Atlanta-Fulton

County area has successfully passed through the impending school desegregation
crisis." Stated another way, the Commission found itself favorably disposed
toward consolidation but did not believe the time was right for the transition

which would be required, It stated that mere consolidation of the two school

districts per se would be neither good nor bad. The values of such a move lie

in whether or not better schools could ts provided for the metropolitan area
than could be provided by two separate systems, and as economically.

However, the Commission did not. drop the idea of improving schools in the
metropolitan area by means of improved organizational arrangements, It concluded
that a number of the advantages of consolidating the school systems could be
achieved through the creation of machinery for joint action and for the develop-
ment of joint programs by the Atlanta and Fulton County boards of education.
Separate and independent action of the two boards on matters involving common
interests lack the strength of joint action and would be less economical in cost,
The search for ways to improve schools convinced the Commission that continuous
research and experimentation were necessary if the improvement program it recom-
mended was to be successfully executed. Furthermore, the demands on education
are such that continuous research and experimentation are essential for a
school program which is sufficiently up-to-date to meet current needs. These
are examples of undertakings which would be more productive if engaged in jointly
by the school systems rather than if each system developed its own separate

To achieve these purposes, the Metropolitan School Development Council was
created as a separate entity to serve both school systems and to be controlled
jointly by them. The Council is the instrument through which many recommenda-
tions of the Local Education Commission have been achieved in full or in part.

Its success is a demonstration of the ability and willingness of the two boards


of education and their professional employees to work cooperatively for better
schools. The Council was viewed initially as a possible intermediate step
toward eventual consolidation, This assumption is supported by the success of
the Council.

The financial position of the Fulton County Board of Education rapidly de-
teriorated following the annexation program of greater Atlanta which was com-
pleted in 1952. After annexation was complete, only 28 per cent of the former
taxable wealth remained for the education of Fulton County public school students,
while the number of students remaining was 50 per cent of the total prior to an-
nexation. School population in the County continued to increase at the rate of
about 7 per cent each year, thus creating capital outlay problems as well as
the necessity of increasing operational budgets. By 1963-64, the Board of Edu-
cation found it necessary to reduce school support because there was no longer
tax leeway for increasing the school budget. All bonding capacity for building
prrposes had been utilized, also. This dire situation prompted the Fulton County
Board of Education to appoint a Study Commission of ten citizens of the County
to find ways and recommend ways to the Board for alleviating the financial crisis
which gripped the schools.

The Commission projected school enrollments, capital outlay needs, and

operational budget needs for the Fulton County schools through the 1972-73

school year, assuming that schools of at least present quality were to be main-

tained. Eleven different possibilities of financing the schools were considered,
all of which proved to be inadequate, if taken singly. It recommended a combina-
tion of alternatives for financing the schools of Fulton County, but it expressed
grave concern for the future and recommended that the "study of what would be in-
volved in merging the Fulton County and Atlanta school districts should be con-

tinued with a view to effecting such a merger when it is feasible."

‘AlL of these Studies gave serious attention to consolidation and without
exception they concluded that the directions toward which the two school systems
should move lead to consolidation. As stated in one of the reports, the question
seemed to be not whether there should be consolidation, but rather when should

consolidation be effected.

In the meantime, certain of the barriers to combining the two school dis-
tricts which were identified earlier have been either overcome or minimized.

The State Minimum Foundation Program has been modified in ways which will not
require a financial sacrifice in state aid should the two districts be united,

as would have been the case earlier. The only loss would be the state alloca-
tion for the salary of one superintendent, about $6,700, and there may be gains
which would offset this loss, depending on the kind of new district to be created.

The level of financial expenditures of the two districts has been brought
closer together, although troublesome differences remain. Questions concerning
kindergartens are perhaps the most difficult.

The trends in school desegregation appear to be clearly established. While
citizens generally seem to accept desegregation as a reality, problems which
accompany the actual integration of schools are profoundly complex and their
solutions are unclear, However, whether one or two school districts exist in
Fulton County may be viewed as largely immaterial with reference to desegregation.

Perhaps the most important change is the growth of the two systems toward
the same basic assumptions concerning education and the increase in productive
cooperative efforts between the two systems, This is progress toward the kind

of unity which is essential to physical consolidation.


Meanwhile, other transitions of great importance have been taking place,
Foremost among these is the widespread recognition that the provision of educa-
tion of increasingly high quality is an essential requirement of all districts
if its people are to remain in the mainstream of modern civilization. Neither
the schools of yesterday nor the schools of today will be adequate for tomorrow,
Cultural transitions are taking place at a rate of speed which quickly render
obsolete much of current education. Intensive efforts to find the best ways of
providing the needed education are underway in many school districts. The
national government is keenly aware of these needs as is evidenced by its in-
creasing support of education at all levels. Education is now recognized as the
only effective way of eliminating poverty, achieving worthy personal objectives,
and developing more satisfactory communities, states, and nations.

The continued rapid growth of the Atlanta metropolitan area is another major
force which deeply influences the schools and how they should be organized. A
population of three million people is projected for the area by the year 2000.
The basic structure of local government in the area has thus far been relatively
unaffected by this growth, except for the annexation program completed in 1952.
These units of government, including those for schools, become increasingly
archaic as the metropolitan area continues its growth and development.

A major aspect of urbanization is the fact that as size increases so does
cultural diversity. This complexity of interests and abilities necessarily in-
creases interdependence because a metropolitan area permits many kinds of special-
ization which are supplementary to each other and when taken together constitute
the entire area. Hence, the status of a given unit in such a complex affects

the whole.

This is why no part of a metropolitan area can afford a second-rate school
system. Therefore, the present fiscal condition of the Fulton County school
district is a concern of the entire metropolitan area and not simply of the
Fulton County school district alone, As pointed out above, a major imperative
is the inability of the present Fulton County school district to sustain an ade-
quate program of education. Since nothing has been done to alleviate the crisis
in school finance underscored in the 1963 study, this imperative becomes more


Before taking a closer look at the question of consolidation, a brief dis-
cussion of school districts and their proper functions may be in order.

The American concept of public education includes provisions for substantial
control of schools by local communities, The local school district, a creature
of the state, was invented to enable people served by the schools to have a
voice in their purpose and government. There are thousands of local school

districts in America. These districts vary greatly in size and in population.

They are easily classified into different types according to the kinds of schools

they provide,
Much study of school districts by authorities suggests the following cri-
teria for an adequate district:
1. It should have enough children to educate to enable schools to funetion
effectively and economically.
It should be a reasonably complete social and economic unit.
It should have taxable wealth adequate to provide healthy local support.

It should have adequate bonding power for needed and anticipated capital


5. It should have tax leeway for both current operations and capital

6. It should have reasonable fiscal independence.

These criteria were applied to the Fulton County school district in the
1963 study. It was found that the district could meet only the first criterion.
It, therefore, by no stretch of the imagination could be judged as an adequate
school district. On the other hand, the Atlanta school district meets all of
these criteria to a reasonable jeiran: Atlanta has already recognized a degree
of responsibility for the Fulton County school district by supporting a 13 mill
countywide tax for support of Fulton County schools. If the two districts were
combined, the single district would be a sound and adequate district, if es-

tablished on the basis of proper legal provisions.

The foregoing discussion traces the historical development of consolidation
as an issue and reviews the findings and recommendations of previous studies as
they bear on the question. Current developments and trends are also identified
and interpreted in relation to their impact on the structure of education in the
Atlanta metropolitan area. These facts point clearly toward a single school

But the really persuasive reasons which should be considered in making a
decision are concerned with consolidation as an instrument for achieving butter
educational programs for the metropolitan area, a more equitable support basis
for the schools, and the provision of structural and procedural arrangements
which will facilitate the economic use of personnel and financial resources in
the ongoing development of more adequate education, and finally with the pro-

vision and stimulation of the research and experimentation which are essential

in the continuous improvement of education in the metropolitan area. These
educational advantages to consolidation are listed and briefly discussed in the

following pages.

A Better School District

Will Be Provided

The discussion above concerning the proper functions of a school district
and the characteristics of a sound district clearly justify this conclusion.
Furthermore, sound principles of political science as they relate to units of
local government support this conclusion, In addition, maintaining and foster-
ing good relationships with other units of local government would be enhanced by
a single district. These factors are obviously related to the ease and conven-

idence of governing the local schools,

Educational Opportunities Can Be

Equalized More Easily

The American dream has long stressed the right of every individual to secure
an education. We now believe that every individual has the right to an education
appropriate to his purposes, interests, abilities, and needs. Equality of edu-
cational opportunity, therefore, does not mean the same education for all, but
it does mean the same level of quality for all insofar as is possible. The
extreme diversity of cultural interests and socio-economic backgrounds which .
are found in the metropolitan area of Atlanta, and in any other metropolitan
area, require a wide range of educational programs adapted to these basic differ-
ences in people, The current nationwide concern for providing more realistic
educational programs for children in slum areas is an indication of this kind

of need. The Atlanta district is vastly heterogeneous in composition, while
the Fulton County district is more homogeneous. Combining the two would make it
possible to provide the variety of educational programs needed in a more economj-
cal and efficient manner.

The equalization of educational offerings in the present school districts of
Atlanta and Fulton County seems virtually impossible, A single district would

contribute much to making this a manageable task with minimum difficulties,

New and Needed Educational Programs Could

Be Provided More Economically

Neither school district has yet provided post-secondary education programs
for which there is great need. Perhaps the fastest growing trend in American
education is the development of comprehensive junior colleges. These institu-
tions provide two years of academic work either for terminal purposes or for
transfer to a senior college. They also usually offer programs in vocational-
technical education and in adult education. It is increasingly clear that con-
tinuing education is a must for the adult citizen of tomorrow. Furthermore, the
kind of world in which we live requires increasing amounts of education, A
recent Educational Policies Commission report takes the position that we must
provide two years of education beyond the high school at public expense for all
high school graduates.

Fulton County is not financially able to provide junior colleges. It would
not be the most economical plan for each district to provide its own junior cole
leges. A program for the metropolitan area would provide the best means of meet-
ing this emerging educational need. The two districts have already found it
profitable to cooperate in the provision of vocational education as reflected by
the new vocational school which is to serve both districts and provisions for a

second such institution.
More Adequate Curricula for Special

Student Groups Can Be Provided

The variety of curricula required to meet the diverse educational needs re-
ferred to above means special educational offerings for-small groups of selected

students. Reference is made to groups of children with serious physical handi-

caps, those suffering from severe mental retardation, children with extreme

emotional difficulties, the exceptionally bright, and those with unusual talents.
Since such programs are needed for only small numbers of children, they can be
provided more economically if the student population to be served is drawn from
the entire metropolitan area rather than if the two present school districts offer
duplicate programs. Furthermore, the educational quality of offerings can be more

readily improved in a unified district,

Certain Educational Programs and Services

Can Be Provided More Satisfactorily

The richness and depth of both teaching and learning are being enhanced by
new discoveries concerning human growth and development. The contributions of
science to the effectiveness of teaching and learning processes is increasing at
a rapid rate. Integrating into curricula the accelerating flow of new and use-
ful subject matier which the modern school program must offer if it is to remain
effective is an increasingly difficult problem.

The modern school must be staffed by professional personnel who keep up with
these continuing developments that affect their productivity. Systemwide con-
tinuous career development programs for personnel have become a necessity. This
is one type of educational service which can be provided better on a metropolitan-
wide basis rather than in terms of the present separate districts. The develop-

ment and use of various learning resources and the appropriate utilization of

technological advances in teaching can be stimulated and fostered better through

a single school district.

Required Improvements in Educational Quality

Can Be Achieved More Readily

The search for better schools is a common thread running through all con-
siderations involved in deciding the consolidation question. Unless the ultimate
consequence of unifying the two school districts is a better quality of education,
there is little need to pursue the issue. Improvements in financing schools in
administrative and supervisory services, and in the scope and variety of educa-
tional offerings can be justified only in terms of their educational import.

The concept of a metropolitan area which is basic to the considerations of this
paper demand an educational program for the Atlanta metropolitan area and not a
series of separate and structurally unrelated programs.

The search for educational quality is now both universal and continuous.

The pursuit of quality is complex in that it is concerned with everything that
has a bearing on the educational programs offered by a school district. The
unification of such efforts would certainly strengthen the opportunities and

resources for enrichment of educational offerings.

Comprehensive, Loag-Range Planning

Can Be More Effective

The increasing magnitude of educational responsibility has been stressed.
The quantitative aspects of this problem will continue to increase, Projections
which have been made through the next several years show no letdown in the rate
of population growth. The indicated increase in the educational load calls for

the most intelligent planning of which the people responsible are capable.

Since this growth ignores school district lines, adequate planning for new en-
rollment must also ignore these lines insofar as actualities permit, Compre-
hensive, long-range planning cannot be satisfactory if it is segmented on the
basis of school district lines which have no constructive significance in the

context of the metropolitan area as a whole.

More Effective Solutions to Common

Educational Problems Are Possible

Educational problems are not confined to areas marked off by school district
lines, as has been emphasized. Some educational problems are unique to certain
types of districts, as is true of Fulton County and Atlanta. But many such
problems are common to the districts of an area, state, region, or nation, Those
which are common seem to be on the increase. The school district which embraces
as nearly a self-sufficient socio-economic unit as is possible provides the best
structural framework for the consideration of educational problems, Solutions
to these problems should not be restricted by artificial district lines which

ignore the facts of life. A unified district would provide for a more construc-

tive approach to problem solution than does the present dual approach. This is

all the more important since most of the educational problems to be faced are

common to the two districts.

More Eifective Research Programs Can

Be Stimulated and Executed

As good schools have become more central to personal and community advance-
ment, the place of research in education has become more apparent. ‘Sound analyses
of existing programs, the identification and description of strengths and weak-

nesses, and the determination of grounds for change require research, Planning

ahead so that there will be adequate classrooms and teachers for the children
in school at the beginning of a given year rests back on sound research. School
systems without strong research programs cannot achieve their maximum effective-
ness. The complexity of a metropolitan area and the interrelationship of roles
of its different segments require comprehensive research programs based on trends
and needs of the entire area rather than of subdistricts which are separate school
districts. Furthermore, economy and wise management dictate the metropolitan-wide

approach to research.

Needed Experimentation and Educational

Invention Can Be Achieved More Readily

Major advances in our society depend heavily on invention and experimentation.
This fact is well recognized in the world of science and technology. The role of
invention and experimentation in the improvement of social institutions such as
the schools is equally critical. Schools like the world in which they exist
must change as their clientele changes. New curriculum materials must be developed
and tested on experimental bases. New knowledge of human growth and development
must be applied to teaching and learning on experimental bases. New teaching pro-
cedures and methods must be tested through tryout and evaluation. Heavy reliance
upon invention and experimentation are crucial to needed educational advancement.
There is no need for the school systems within the metropolitan area to engage
in separate programs of this nature. The interests of both can be served -better

by unified programs, to say nothing of economies which could be effected.

More Extensive Use of Selected Educational

Facilities and Learning Resources Are Possible

Centers for acquiring, creating, distributing, and servicing curriculum
materials, filmstrips, video tapes, films, and the necessary equipment for appro-
priate use of these materials are becoming common, The creation of teaching
materials for local use and on the basis of needs unique to the local situation
is an supoitent function of these centers. The use of television in teaching
and in professional development programs is increasing. The needed facilities
for extensive television programs in the metropolitan area can be centered easily
in one location.

It would be foolish to duplicate the above in different school districts
serving the same metropolitan area. A single center can provide a constant flow
of materials far richer and more comprehensive than would be possible with dupli-

cate facilities in the separate districts,

Equity and Balance of Financial Effort

and Support Can Be Achieved

An axiom of educational finance which is accepted universally is that wealth
should be taxed where it is in order to educate children where they are. The most
glaring deficiency in the structure of piblic education in the Atlanta area vio-
lates this axiom. The center for commerce and industry is the City of Atlanta.
Contributions of most Fulton County citizens to the economy of the metropolitan
area are made largely in the City of Atlanta where they do their work, This
wealth enriches Atlanta primarily, although the earnings paid to the individual
may be spent wherever he chooses. The contribution of the city to support of

schools in the Fulton County district is a 14 mill property tax. The industrial

wealth of the metropolitan area which is a major source of school revenue lies
largely within the City of Atlanta.

No equitable system of financial support and effort is possible which does
not take into account these economic facts. A single tax program for schools
in the metropolitan area with the revenues distributed according to educational
need is the only satisfactory answer to the financial dilemma of the Fulton
County schools. This is Atlanta's problem as well as Fulton County's problem
because of the previously stressed interdependence of the metropolitan area.

A single school district would be the most simple and prudent way to achieve
this goal. It should be pointed out that a new tax plan would be needed, for
Atlanta is approaching the situation of Fulton County under its present tax

Greater Financial Stability is Possible

The disadvantages of heavy reliance on the property tax for the support of
schools are well known. The primary advantage is that revenues from property
taxes fluctuate less than do revenues from more sensitive barometers of economic
health. Desirable stability in the financial structure of a school system in

the final analysis is related to the soundness of the economy and the fairness

of the system of taxation. The better balanced the tax program, the more stable

the financial base of the schools, The more complete the economic district or
area served by the school district as an economy in its own right, the more
stable the local tax base for schools.

It goes without saying that combining the Atlanta and Fulton County dis-
tricts into a single school system would provide a far sounder economic base for

year-to-year stability in school support,


Economies are Possible

Consolidation cannot be justified as an economy measure, if this means an
actual reduction in expenditures. Any plan for immediate unification of the
two districts would really cost more than the sum of the current budgets of the
two systems because costs would be equalized upward instead of downward, assuming
the same quality of education is to be provided in the entire district. Neverthe-
less, some financial economies are possible because of the elimination of dupli-
cate programs and services which can be handled better through single systems,

In this connection, special reference is made to experimentation and invention,
research, certain district-wide programs and services, specialized curricula for
small student groups, and others enumerated in the listing above, These programs
could be provided at higher quality levels on a unified basis at a lower unit
cost than would be possible in dual programs.

However, the greatest economic gain to consolidation would be in the creation
of opportunities to purchase more with the educational dollar rather than in the
utilization of fewer educational dollars, This kind of economy is certainly to
be sought and is of much greater importance than the mere saving of money. A
good test of a school district is not how little money it spends, but how much
education it buys for its expenditures,

The above identification and description of advantages to consolidation
are predicated on certain assumptions concerning the new school district. Among
these assumptions are the following: an adequate legal base for the new district
will be provided; an administrative structure which will make possible the neces-
sary leadership for educational advancement in the metropolitan area will be
created; an adequate plan for financing the new school district will be adopted,
and emphasis on continuously improving educational quality and extending educa-

tional services will be continued, Consolidation as such is of no value, It

is valuable only as it results in educational advancement, but it will not

guarantee such advancement.

Educational reasons why consolidation is not desirable must he viewed against
the backdrop of advantages. It will then be possible to weigh the two sets of
reasons and determine the course of action which offers the most promise for edu-
cational advancement in the metropolitan area. It will be noted that reference
is made to educational disadvantages rather than to other disadvantages or
handicaps which might have to be faced in effecting consolidation.

A careful study of the educational problems which might result from consoli-
dation indicates that such problems are related primarily to the factor of size

of the district. Some of these problems are discussed below.
Difficulties in Maintaining Local Control

The capacity of schools to make needed adaptations which take into proper
account the educational needs of their neighborhoods is related to the size of
districts. Considerable uniformity of educational programs within districts
has been traditional. As a rule, the larger districts offer a greater variety
of educational needs which require much variation in offerings. This makes
uniformity particularly undesirable in these districts. Current efforts to
develop more realistic school programs for children in slum areas of cities
is an example of the need for different kinds of programs according to com-
munity backgrounds, A reasonable degree of control must be vested in the local
school community if these variations in educational needs are to be met. Neigh-
borhood control generates local responsibility, interest and initiative which are

essential to good schools.


Unhealthy Reliance on Bureaucracy

Where local control is missing, decisions are removed from the local scene.
Instead of the healthy exercise of community responsibility for schools, direc-
tives from the central office take the place of local initiative, Thus, bureau-
eratic controls crow up which inevitably stress uniformity and discourage the
community autonomy which has been one of the great strengths of public education
in America, There is evidence to show that the larger the district the more
dependence is placed on unhealthy nikal from central offices which are far

removed from the people.
Inadequate Invention and Experimentation

Many very large school districts have been notably lacking in educational
invention and experimentation. Some of the major current educational ills of
our country are in the slums of large city districts where until recently little
effort was made to create and try out school programs which would serve these
areas more realistically. Innovation is difficult in situations which do not en-
courage the exercise of individuality. Uniformity and invention are not com-

patible. Excessive use of rules, regulations, and directives inhibit creativity.
Poor Communication

The difficulties of maintaining satisfactory channels of communication in-
crease with the size of a school district. The threads which hold a school system
together become tenuous as the district grows larger, Greater dependence must be
placed on formal and impersonal means of communication in large districts. Oppor-
tunities for misunderstanding and conflicting opinions are greater where personal

and informal contacts are missing.

Too Much Centralized Decision Making

The disadvantage of bigness in utilizing democratic participation in reach-
ing decisions stems partly from the lack of an adequate structure to permit such
participation and partly from the slowness of action characteristic of large

units of government. The fact that both the soundness of decisions and an

adequate understanding of their meanings are enhanced by participation in their

making is of great importance in effective teaching.
Loss of Personal Identity

Many studies have shown that a close relationship exists between the pro-
ductivity of a person and the degree to which he feels himself to be an integral
part of the enterprise which provides his employment. The more he is made to
feel that he is but a mere cog in a machine, the more he acts as though this
were true. There is no substitute for maintaining warm and personal relation-
ships in achieving satisfaction and success in one's work. This kind of environ-
ment is very hard to maintain where large numbers of persons are involved.

The Atlanta and Fulton County school districts, if combined, would be
about eleventh in size among all districts in America, In 1963-6, the total
school enrollment in the two districts was 157,10, about one-sixth the enroll-
ment in New York City which has more than one million pupiis and enrolls more
pupils than any other district in the Nation. Both the Atlanta and Fulton County
districts have already reached the size of school systems which have suffered
from the ills described above. Therefore, combining the school districts would
scarcely create problems of bigness beyond those which already exist, if the
proper safeguards are observed in the creation and establishment of the new


Just as creating a single school district would not guarantee the educational
advantages discussed in this paper, neither would the ills described inevitably
follow. Knowing the disadvantages to avoid should be sufficient forewarning to
assure the provision of an adequate legal base for the new district, satisfactory

administrative leadership, and sufficient financial support.

Transitions in political and civil structures are painful and tedious at
best. Existing systems cling to life tenaciously and carry with them the strong
support of tradition and custom. Creating a new school district is simple com-
pared to abolishing existing districts.

Basic difficulties fall into three classes: legal, attitudes and under-
standings, and operational. There may be numerous variations in each type of
difficulty in a particular situation where consolidation is undertaken.

Legal difficulties inhere in the necessity for making changes within the
limits of legal freedom to dissolve a given district and to create the necessary
legislation for establishing and setting into operation the new district. This
problem is one which members of the legal profession must solve with the aid of
the General Assembly of the State in passing the legislation which has been de-
termined as being necessary.

The handicap of conflicting attitudes and understandings is probably the
most difficult to overcome, The question of consolidation must be resolved by
the electorate, in the final analysis. Any move to consolidate will be inter-
preted in many different ways by citizens who already hold varying points of
view on the issue. Any plan advanced to effect consolidation will be subjected
to abuse without understanding by interests who think their purposes will be

served best by maintaining the status quo. Consolidation will be viewed as a

threat by many, even though the typical citizen_and-the_averege-studemt-will. -

scarcely know the difference after consolidation is achieved. stn nes oe
attending the same schools, which will be operated essentially as before and

taught by the same teachers.

Overcoming handicaps of this nature depends largely on the widespread dis- _
semination of adequate information and the stimulation of discussion and examina-
tion of relevant facts, One of the great strengths of our democracy rests in the
fact that people when properly informed on problems and issues will make wise
decisions, Therefore, major tasks, if consolidation is undertaken, will be the
planning and carrying out of public information programs and arranging for public.
discussion of the advantages and disadvantages of the proposed plan.

The third difficulty is creation and implementation of needed operational
plans and procedures for the new school system. The responsibility for this phase
of consolidation necessarily lies with the professional staff of the school system
and the board of education, The function of the board of education will be to
provide adequate policies for bringing the new district into full bloom and con-
tinuing its operation on a sound basis, The professional staff will have many
separate but related tasks to undertake in effecting a smoothly functioning new
district where two separate districts existed before .

While the two districts have drawn closer together in recent years and
have worked cooperatively on numerous projects and programs, there are still
differences in operational patterns and policies of the two school systems.

Some differences are in pension systems, retirement provisions, leave provisions,
sick leave policies, employment practices, salary schedules, pupil-teacher ratios
and, as pointed out earlier, differences in educational programs and services.

The new district would have to develop new policies on these and many other

matters. These policies would have to be put into practice before the

consolidation move is completed and a success, This constitutes a tremendous’ '
professional job for the staff and requires infinite patience and careful

None of these difficulties are insurmountable, Good will, good judgment,
and hard work are the essertial ingredients of success,


The Atlanta district consists of 128.395 miles of which 8,20 miles lie in
DeKalb County. The Fulton County school district includes 420 square miles of
territory. Therefore, the two districts, if consolidated, would make a single
district of 548.395 square miles of which 539.975 square miles would be in
Fulton County proper.

The new district would have had a population of 632,600 on April 1, 196h,
of whom 126,400 were in Fulton County and 506,200 in Atlanta, including 43,900
who live in DeKalb County. School enrollment for the fall of 196 would be about
145,000 pupils. Professional personnel in the district would number nearly
5,500 individuals, Other school employees would add up to just under 3,000 persons,

The district would contain 170 alaientaey schools and 35 high schools, plus
two night high schools, The elementary schools are now located as follows: 118
in Atlanta, and 52 in Fulton County. Of the regular high schools, 2, are in
Atlanta and 11 in Fulton County.

The school budget would be nearly 60 million dollars per year, based on
bringing expenditure levels of the present Fulton County School District up to
current Atlanta levels, including the provisions of kindergarten.

The school tax digest would be $1,355,500,000. This is currently divided
as follows: $151,500,000 in the Fulton County district and $1,203,500,000 in
the City of Atlanta.

IMP: jp
September 29, 196k

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