Save Our Small Schools
A Democrat from Des Moines discussed a proposal last week that would force the rapid consolidation of all school districts with less than 750 students enrolled. This would affect 216 out of the 364 school districts in Iowa. Senator Matt McCoy (D-Des Moines) implies that keeping these schools open is too costly for Iowans. However, it costs taxpayers $167.30 less per pupil to send a student to a school district with an enrollment of less than 750 students, which is on average $7879.10 per pupil, than it does to send a student to one of Iowa’s five largest schools, which costs on average $8046.40 per pupil. Iowa’s small schools are a great asset for our communities and state. Small schools provide high quality educational services for students. In fact, a greater percentage of 11th grade students in Iowa’s 50 smallest schools are proficient in math and reading than students in Iowa’s 50 largest schools. Small schools also have a high success rate of keeping their kids in school through graduation. For the 2007-2008 school year, the average dropout rate for schools with enrollment under 750 was 1.1%. During the same amount of time, the average dropout rate for Iowa’s five largest schools was 4.3%. While it is always important that we look for methods to be more efficient in all areas receiving taxpayer money, we should not immediately look to the schools that are, in most cases, providing the best education in Iowa, and force them to make unnecessary changes.