Monday, August 25, 2008

Bigger is Better? Future Predictions

Here's an article Loon found and I thought we should put it in our blog. Small schools are what makes up this great state of Iowa. But if we don't do something, those charming schools will be shut down forever and we'll be busing our kids into Waterloo, Cedar Rapids, and Iowa City. Kids will be sleeping in dorms as transportation will become unbearable for parents. If your student is an athletic or musician they'll be housed appropriately. Read this article and let us know what YOU THINK.
Officials predict more district consolidation
Associated Press State and school leaders say there is a new wave of school district consolidation that could alter the landscape of education in Iowa. The consolidation is happening in school districts that are facing budget crunches because of shrinking enrollment, skyrocketing expenses and troubles cutting back. And the cash-strapped schools arent getting the same type of help they used to from the state. ­Theyre in a real balancing act,said Judy Jeffrey, director of the Iowa Department of Education.­I think theres going to be another wave of consolidation. Just how many Iowa school districts will consolidate depends on whether some can dig themselves out of a financial hole. State officials say enrollment has dropped in twothirds of Iowas 362 school districts. Those districts lose more than $5,000 in state aid for each student who leaves. District leaders were warned last spring that 60 school districts were on track to operate in the red in 2008 and 2009. ­I see right now more districts in potential financial difficulty than Ive seen in the almost nine years Ive been doing this,said Larry Sigel, school finance director for the Iowa Association of School Boards. He helps train school leaders on how to manage their budgets. Experts say Iowas tradition of local control had enabled even the smallest school district to survive, but thats changing. In 2004, lawmakers started to phase out a state budget guarantee that bailed out schools struggling with declining enrollment. And last year, the Legislature gave the Iowa Board of Education power to shut down school districts that run in the red for two years in a row. The new practice has been put to use. Last spring, the boards members shut down the Russell school district, where leaders blamed financial troubles on declining enrollment and mismanagement. Jeffrey said that sent a message to other districts. Some schools had made major efforts to avoid Russells fate. For example, residents in the West Bend-Mallard district in northwest Iowa raised $850,000 to save their school district. But voters in some districts have opted not to keep their school districts open. Voters in Taylor County decided not to bail New Market out of its financial hole. In Millersburg, the towns only school will be empty this time next year if voters agree to merge the Deep River-Millersburg and English Valleys school districts, which have about 600 students between them. ­I think people have accepted the inevitable,said Twila Gerard, 67, a town historian who was part of Deep RiverMillersburgs first graduating class in 1958. ­Theres not enough children

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