The Mansfield Town council has plans to consolidate its three elementary schools into one. Currently, Southeast, Goodwin and Vinton house the less-than-600 children attending primary school in Mansfield, but this figure has been falling for years. As such, it is generally a good move to put them all to one, despite some backlash.
The main driving force behind this was to cut down on the environmental costs related to the upkeep of three separate buildings. Three separate buildings mean three separate heating and electrical systems, for example. Furthermore, there are obvious financial costs related to running three different properties.
This all relates to a sort of corollary to the concept of economies of scale. Effectively, it is believed that the cost of producing goods goes down as you produce more of them. It just gets easier and easier. A similar idea applies here: Putting more kids in one building is easier than having a full separate building — or two, in this case.
This extends to cleaning, teaching and more importantly food. For three elementary schools, three different teams of lunch cooks are needed. At one school, only one slightly larger team would be needed.
Honestly, the University of Connecticut should take a page out of the town’s book in this respect. At UConn, we have eight dining halls, each with their own dishes, food and staff. As harsh as this may sound to the groups at each separate dining hall, this is clearly wasteful, not only from an environmental but also a financial standpoint.
For example, there is no real reason for both North and Northwest dining halls to exist. Yes, removing one would make things less convenient for some students, but it would also cut down on food waste and extraneous costs with no real downside. Implemented properly, one could easily be removed with no real foot traffic problem to the other.
This would also carry other benefits besides the direct ones. Perhaps the extra space created from closing a dining hall or two down could be used to develop the campus. Maybe a new badly-needed parking lot could be constructed there. There are opportunities that would be created by consolidation.
It’s almost comical that UConn Dining Services put time into justifying reducing liquid waste by using smaller cups when they continue to run an unsustainable extensive dining hall network. Props to Mansfield for their commitment to reducing environmental and financial waste; UConn should do the same.