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Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Sonoma County Consolidating School Districts

Sonoma County Office of Education 
and local districts respond
to Grand Jury report on consolidation

County Superintendent Steven D. Herrington commended the Sonoma County Civil Grand Jury for its dedicated study of school district consolidation, Doing Nothing about Education is No Longer an Option, in the 2010-11 Grand Jury Interim Report (available at This document explores the history of Sonoma County’s public school district configuration and recommends that districts, city and county governments, and the public at large assess the possible educational and financial benefits of decreasing the number of schools districts in Sonoma County through consolidation and/or unification.

“In making its recommendations, the Grand Jury recognized that the focus of any changes should be on improved educational outcomes for students,” said Dr. Herrington. “Consolidation or unification may not be in the best interest of every district, but given today’s economic realities, it’s essential that we review this option and determine its viability. This is what the Grand Jury has requested and local districts are already in the process of complying.”

Each school district board has been asked to hold a public hearing in the next 60 days, followed by a board assessment of the community’s willingness to participate in a countywide study to determine the financial costs and benefits of consolidation and the potential impact on the education of students. The results of the board assessments in Sonoma County’s 40 school districts will be published by the Grand Jury.

As noted in the Grand Jury’s interim report, the Superintendent of Schools is a neutral facilitator of this process, who can—if requested by districts—use the resources of his office to support the development of a study. Dr. Herrington has committed to fund a study should it be called for by districts. In addition, he has been working with districts to explore and implement a variety of cost-sharing programs that reduce district expenses and minimize duplication of efforts.

One locally focused consolidation study is already being supported by SCOE. Earlier this month, the Old Adobe Union and Petaluma City school districts requested a study of possible reorganization of the two districts into a single elementary district. The Grand Jury noted the efforts of the Petaluma districts and commended the respective boards that took this action.

Sonoma County Office of Education
5340 Skylane Boulevard, Santa Rosa, CA 95403
(707) 524-2600 •

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