Education Finance Fact

By 1935, there were more than 3,500 school districts in the state. Today, there are fewer than 1,000 local educational agencies.


For nearly a century, as California’s population grew, so too did the number of school districts. By 1935, there were more than 3,500 school districts in the state with a population of around 6 million. In 2007, with more than six times as many people (around 36.6 million), there are one-third the number of school districts (fewer than 1,000).

Over the past 70 years, there have been several successful attempts to provide financial incentives to promote districts to unify, unionize, and consolidate. Today, there are a handful of reorganizations that occur each year and they more or less follow the process introduced more than 50 years ago. The State Board of Education is responsible for reviewing all petitions for district reorganization, which have been reviewed first by a local district organization committee. The structure of the committee varies. In some areas, this responsibility is part of the regular duties of the County Board of Education and, in other areas, there is an appointed board that includes representation from throughout the community.

While the state encourages consolidation of school districts, it is generally a lengthy process, taking years to go from idea to approval. Several factors are considered when evaluating any proposed reorganization, including fiscal and educational impact, community identity, and race/ethnic segregation. Each year, School Services is involved in a number of school district reorganization-related studies where we assess the likely impacts of the reorganization for school districts and/or county committees prior to bringing any recommendation to the State Board of Education. Given the lengthy time and cost of such an endeavor, such studies ensure that implementation barriers and challenges are known up front.

More information can be found at:

Useful Links:
  www.cde.ca.gov/re/lr/do/documents/dochap2.doc
Workshops:
  SSC's School District Reorganization Workshop
SSC Experts:
  Robert Miyashiro