School consolidation continues to be a topic of great concern for many small rural school and districts.While advocates for consolidation commonly cite fiscal imperatives based upon economies of scale, opponents have responded with evidence undermining this argument and pointing out the prominent position of the rural school in the economic and social development of community.North Dover Elementary School students head to school buses.Some taxpayers and officials believe the state’s 19 school districts should be consolidated into a fewer number to save money and increase efficiency.Kids watch out the window of a school bus as they wait to be driven home from Diagonal School in Diagonal on Friday, Jan. This day was the school's homecoming, and students had an early out following a pep rally and indoor parade of miniature floats. Diagonal High School girls basketball players prepare to perform the school fight song after their homecoming win against Morman Trail in Diagonal on Friday, Jan. Without enough students to form a football team, they celebrate homecoming at a doubleheader basketball game in January.The school is too small to have a football team, so they celebrate during basketball season. Miller/The Gazette)Diagonal School (left of center) sits on top of a hill in Diagonal on Friday, Jan. Diagonal Community School District's certified enrollment is 97 students, making it the smallest school district in Iowa. Still sweating and catching their breath, members of the basketball team played the fight song for their own win.
Significant population declines followed the droughts and economic crisis that struck the Great Plains in the thirties. portion of the region, by 1968 only 4,822 school districts remained.The Rural Blog Anything But Research Based-State Initiatives to Consolidate Schools and Districts Rural Policy Matters (March 2006) Broader Curriculum Does Not Equal Higher Achievement in Iowa Rural Policy Matters (March 2006) Breaking the Fall—Cushioning the Impact of Rural Declining Enrollment (PDF)Lorna Jimerson (February 2006) School Consolidation and Local Control (PDF)National School Boards Association (2005) School consolidation and alternatives are the focus of the October issue of Leadership Insider. (PDF)Cynthia Reeves (Jan 2004) Between 19, total enrollment in West Virginia decreased 11%, 202 schools were closed, and education spending increased by 16%.Per pupil expenditures increased more in West Virginia than in any other state, but student achievement remained stagnant during this period.American Association of School Administrators: School District Consolidation: American School: Rural School Districts Facing Threat of Consolidation Education Northwest: What Does Research Say About School District Consolidation?National Education Policy Center: Consolidation of Schools and Districts: What the Research Says and What It Means Pennsylvania School Boards Association: Merger/Consolidation of School Districts: Does it save money and improve student achievement?Later, as the region's population declined, the number of schools followed suit.