29 July 2022

Mid-sized urban districts (10,000 to 20,000 students) have lower administrative costs per student than larger urban districts

 For those wanting the latest in administrative costs per pupil:

“However, some of the lowest administrative costs per student are among midsize and large districts (i.e., those with student counts of 10,000 to 20,000 students).” p.24
Mid-sized urban districts (10,000 to 20,000 students) have lower administrative costs per student than larger urban districts. p. 33

A Utah State Performance Audit of Public Education Administrative Costs (June2022)

This would be the range that an Orem SD would fall into!

27 July 2022

Opinion: Is ASD accountable to patrons? Former state school board member addresses overcrowding, district split


"Second, the disconnect between Board members is a problem and growing rapidly. Right now, a member of our Board represents substantially more people than a member of our state legislature in the House. This has effectively inverted the notion of local government, making our State government more responsive than our local government. Furthermore, we have ten very large high schools in the District, but only seven board members, making it impossible for board members to know their local schools effectively."

"The obvious solution to most of the District’s problems is to split the District three ways so that each new District could better respond to Orem’s slow growth, the stable growth between Lindon and American Fork, and the rapid growth between Lehi and Eagle Mountain. Not one single candidate will even mention the topic, much less discuss it."

Opinion: Is ASD accountable to patrons? Former state school board member addresses overcrowding, district split

14 July 2022

Timeline: Orem explores split from Alpine School District, forming new district

 This KSL article is about the Orem City proposal to create their own school district.

Save Orem Schools

 This website is promoting the consideration of creating an Orem School District.  They will be looking at all the facts, now that a feasibility study has been done.

13 May 2022

School District size nationwide 2013-2014

 Total School Districts, Student Enrollment by State and Metro Area


03 April 2018


David A. Kaiser PhD
Rochester Institute of Technology , Rochester, New York
Published online: 08 Sep 2008.


To cite this article: David A. Kaiser PhD (2005) School Shootings, High School Size, and Neurobiological Considerations, Journal of Neurotherapy: Investigations in Neuromodulation, Neurofeedback and Applied Neuroscience, 9:3, 101-115
To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1300/J184v09n03_07

SUMMARY. In the last decade 17 multiple-injury student school shootings have occurred in the United States, 13 at high schools and 4 at middle schools. Research suggests that high schools function best academically as well as socially at enrollments around 600 (150 students per grade), the natural group size of humans. Eleven of 13 high school shootings occurred in schools with enrollments over 600 students, and many with over 1,000 students. Violent and antisocial behavior is associated with deficits in social information processing, which is necessarily exacerbated by complex social environments. School shootings may be in part a response to the unprecedented social complexity of large schools. Median public high school enrollment now stands at 1,200 in suburbs and 1,600 in cities despite the fact that smaller schools are superior to large schools on nearly all academic and social measures of success including graduation rate, student satisfaction, conduct infractions, athletic participation, absenteeism, and dropout rate. Educational institutions should adapt to the neurobiological limitations of children instead of forcing children to adapt to the unnatural requirements of such institutions.

Reducing school size to within children’s neurobiological capabilities is a universal prevention, a proactive method of reducing violence and improving intellectual, emotional, and social development.

When groups are small enough for members to know one another, they are more apt and able to police themselves.

When natural group sizes are exceeded, formal institutions of behavioral control are necessary, which can be both expensive and ineffective.

Some communities have experimented with a schools-within-a-school approach, dividing large student bodies into smaller operational units with dedicated academic and administrative personnel. BUT common areas (gym, cafeteria, entrance) often remain shared by the entire student body, undermining group cohesion, and

students in physically large schools rarely possess the freedoms and responsibilities of students in smaller schools, regardless of administrative strategy.

We need to build smaller schools, more schools, and roll back the consolidation of the past half century.
(spacing and capitalization added)

My comment: 
The sad thing is that, despite being published 10 years ago, and much additional supporting research prior to that, nobody in authority has done anything with it except call for more gun control - which would have had no effect on any of the school shootings that have happened so far!

Why? Why have they done nothing to improve the situation with anything that has been shown to absolutely reduce violence? Where is the outcry, protests, etc., for this??


In the early 1960’s research was put forward that called for bigger high schools. These schools would provide more opportunities for less cost. It is important to note that this research called for increasing school size to 400-500 students, something we would today call very small!  What was a true conclusion then, for the size they were advocating, has today been taken to an extreme that has given us schools of 2,000 to as many as 5,000 students!
Many today still claim that the bigger we build our schools, the more opportunities we will have for students and for less cost. What has the research shown?  Karen Irmsher, in her compilation of the research titled “School Size” says, “Michael Klonsky (1995), Mary Anne Raywid (1995), and others report that large school size hurts attendance and dampens enthusiasm for involvement in school activities. Large schools have lower grade averages and standardized-test scores coupled with higher dropout rates and more problems with violence, security, and drug abuse.”  Considering the recent problems with suicides among students, it may be that large school sizes also contribute to the problem.
As for costs, Irmsher states, “Lee and Smith (1996) found that savings projected by proponents of school consolidation have not materialized. Instead of long-assumed economies of scale, they discovered diseconomies, or penalties of scale. Large schools need more layers of support and administrative staff to handle the increased bureaucratic demands.”  Another study entitled “Dollars and Sense II” stated, “a 2005 study of 25 different small schools across the nation found that, on average, small schools spent 17 percent less per student than comparable schools in their districts while achieving equivalent or better results.” I might add that so-called “small” schools should more appropriately be called moderately-sized schools, for we are not actually advocating for truly small schools, but rather for moderately-sized schools, the size that allow students to be somebody rather than a number.
A local person recently said to me, “Large schools only give a select handful of students a bigger school name for their resume. They most definitely don’t provide more opportunities for most of the students.”  There are only so many football players on a team. There are only so many parts in a play.  There are the same numbers of students that can participate in student government in a large or a small school. That means, in our shopping mall-sized schools, the chances of participating on a team, in a competition or extra-curricular program, or just being somebody in the school culture, are greatly diminished.
As for increased classes offered, with the advancements in technology of the past 20 years, students can take whatever classes they want regardless of the physical site they attend.
But what do large schools cost communities that are not normally considered? There are the intangible costs of lowered achievement, graduation rates, the increased violence, security, and drug abuse, etc., mentioned above. There are also transportation and traffic costs. Large regional schools mean more busing and individual cars driving greater distances, increasing congestion on our roads, with all the associated costs. With increased busing, bus schedules come to rule school schedules to the students’ detriment.
Having your home next to a school used to increase its value. Now patrons even protest having a school built near them. They don’t like all the traffic, for one thing. With fewer, larger schools communities must raise taxes for more parks and playing fields that used to be provided with schools.  More moderately-sized schools would provide this while spreading out and decreasing traffic.
Be aware that refusing to pass bonds for new schools will not keep taxes low. It will just move the control from the local district to the state, while increasing problems in the schools as it pushes them ever bigger, which, as Irmsher’s research points out require ever more programs to try to mitigate the problems of lowered performance, “coupled with higher dropout rates and more problems with violence, security, and drug abuse.”  It requires more taxes from the state to cover increased busing along with increased costs to parents transporting their children.
Bigger schools only appear cost effective on district yearly budget sheets that miss most of the real costs. They decrease opportunities for the vast majority of students and only give a few a big-name school on their resume. Let’s not short-change our children and our pocketbooks by cramming them into ever-bigger schools. More information is available at www.smallerschools.org.
David Cox is a career teacher, former Utah state legislator, and is currently teaching in China. He has spent years researching school size and its implications in student achievement. He is a Lehi native.
Lehi Free Press, March 1, 2018