For decades, the answer to this revenue riddle in Iowa, and other rural areas across the country, was school consolidation. There have been 117 school district reorganizations in Iowa since 1965, and they aren't always popular. "Parents worry about students being forced into larger classes or exponentially increasing their travel times," Wiser writes. "Students may have a hard time adjusting to a new school in a different town, and people in the towns that lose their schools also lose some of their identity."
Two Republican state House members joined with a Democratic colleague to organize a Rural Education Task Force that includes superintendents, school administrators and teachers from rural districts. The task force is looking at the Cedar Valley West program, which brings students from four rural districts to a local community college to take upper-level classes and earn dual high school and college credit for their efforts. (Read more)