Empty districts

School-less school districts? There are more than 285 of them across the land; but as of fall 2010, that number will decline by 26, thanks to New Jersey. Governor Jon Corzine has just signed legislation that would close down the twenty-six in an effort to "[reduce] the size of government," "[develop] greater efficiencies over time," and ease tax burdens. And the districts slated for extinction? Not so thrilled. See, a no-school-district is a sneaky way for affluent towns to avoid taxes. Residents of the town of Tavistock, for example--by "town" you should read sizable golf course with a population of 20--fear they'll have to pay property taxes on their lavish homes to benefit the nearby district that actually has pupils, instead of their current low taxes and an annual $14,805 tuition-style payment for their one outsourced student. But perhaps Tavistock's residents have forgotten that once they leave their green, 18-hole island, public education is paid for by all citizens. Sadly, the Garden State isn't the worst offender. Massachusetts, Maine, and Vermont each had more than 50 such school-less bureaucracies as of the 2005-2006 school year. Let's hope they soon follow New Jersey's lead.

"Book closes on NJ school districts without schools," by Geoff Mulvihill, Associated Press, June 30, 2009