Blog for Rural America

The Center for Rural Affairs, a private, non-profit organization, is working to strengthen small businesses, family farms and ranches, and rural communities. Permission to reprint items from this web log is hereby granted, on the condition that clear credit is given to the original source of the material. If the blog provides information for a story, please let us know by sending an email to johnc@cfra.org.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Big Trouble for Small Schools

- from the desk of Kim Preston, Center for Rural Affairs Research Assistant and Grassroots Organizer - kimp@cfra.org

Small Rural Schools Targeted Under Proposed Funding Changes.

Lyons, NE – An analysis of the proposed changes to Nebraska’s school finance formula and school structure shows that many of Nebraska’s rural schools could suffer from imposition of a “small by choice” factor.

The Center for Rural Affairs released the analysis of policies adopted and proposed by the Legislature in the report Big Trouble for Small Schools. Unlike previous Big Trouble for Small Schools reports, the current analysis focuses on schools with an enrollment of 390 or less that will be targeted for consolidation through decreased fundingand have limited opportunities to other programs due to their small size if legislation introduced during the 2005 Nebraska Unicameral is enacted.

“State K-12 policy in the past two sessions of the Legislature shows a consistent policy direction for schools to maintain an enrollment of at least 390 students,” said Kim Preston, co-author of the report and Center for Rural Affairs Research Assistant and Grassroots Organizer. “Ultimately, this combination of state policies may leave many rural school districts in a financial corner with no alternative but to succumb to consolidation,” Preston added.

The Center for Rural Affairs’ report finds that legislative action in the 2005 session of the Nebraska Unicameral and proposals to be considered by the Legislature in 2006 appear to be placing the state and rural communities on a path of extensive school consolidation through deprivation of much needed state funds. The full report can be obtained by contacting the Center or at: http://www.cfra.org/resources/issue_brief_BigTroubleV.htm

“Research has consistently shown that smaller schools have some advantages over their larger counterparts. The Nebraska Legislature appears to be ignoring these virtues,” said Preston.

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