The Arcadia schools serve roughly 575 students, nearly 100 of which are students who reside outside the district but are schooled in Arcadia under open enrollment, according to district officials. “This issue [of merger] has been going on for 40 years.

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The Brookings-Greater Ohio study recommended merging districts smaller than somewhere between 2,000 and 2,500 students, which would leave about 400 districts.

According to Brookings-Greater Ohio, Ohio’s administrative costs are almost 50 percent higher than the national average, while the state ranks 47 in spending in the classroom.

Districts are trying to balance budgets by cutting non-instructional costs and asking taxpayers for more money to try and avoid layoffs of teachers, even though classroom personnel are, by far, the greatest expense facing schools.

Two Wayne County districts have taken cost-cutting a step further, without actually merging.

Fordham Institute analyzed district pupil-administrator ratios and found the state average is 150.2 pupils per administrator, with the most top-heavy district (Bettsville Local) at 37.4 and the leanest, New Albany-Plain Local, at 308.6.

The analysis found, not surprisingly, that the smallest districts had fewer students per administrator than the largest districts. The newspaper compared administrative spending by the Westerville City Schools with that of eight smaller districts in Tuscarawas County that together serve about the same number of students as Westerville.

“In most cases taxes go up in the ‘losing’ district,” Ebright said.

Ebright thinks the goal of merger proponents is to have one county-wide district in each of Ohio’s 88 counties.

In February, a study by the Brookings Institution and the Greater Ohio Policy Center said Ohio ought to eliminate one-third of its 614 school districts. The North Bass Island school district at Lake Erie has only two students and both go to school at Put-in-Bay on nearby South Bass Island.

Middle Bass Island school district has four students who also go to school at Put-in-Bay.

The districts in Rittman and Orrville have consolidated several top administrative positions, including the superintendent and treasurer, to save money.