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The Future of Small Towns: Idea Generator
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The Basics

A shortage of quality teachers and disparities in funding threaten the quality of rural K-12 education. Rural districts lack the tax bases or proximity to metropolitan amenities of urban schools.


What the Experts Say

Rural schools at a distinct disadvantage
Several factors put small, rural schools at a disadvantage to their urban counterparts. They lack the scale to spread out fixed costs. Their tax bases also took a big hit when the legislature removed agricultural land and cabins from local school property tax rolls. [Source 1, Source 2]

Teacher shortfalls
Schools in rural areas (and across the state) are lacking high-quality teacher applicants and minority applicants. These shortages will intensify as many teachers approach retirement age and policies will be needed to prepare for future educational demand. [Source 1]

Pay disparities
The pay disparity between rural Minnesota teachers and metropolitan ones is 6th widest in the nation, with rural teachers making only 84% of their urban colleagues' average salary. [Source 1]

Job training needed
Greater Minnesota's workers are productive and reliable, but adapt slower to new technologies in part because they have less access to more advanced training. [Source 1]

Question to consider:
How can rural areas with significantly smaller tax capacity maintain good schools in the face of declining enrollment and state funding?

More from MPR:
Document Rural legislators target urban school funds
Document Pawlenty announces new education initiatives
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Ideas for: Education

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2.5 rating
(3 votes)
Morris, MN: Focus on the students
Start September with a pro photographer taking pictures of each student and each faculty member, and keep those pictures in store and bank and office windows all year round.

Keep track of which s... Read more

From George Brooks of Fort Myers, FL on 05/29/05

2 comments | Vote/comment on this entry



0 rating
(0 votes)
Strengthen town-gown relations
My hopes and dreams for a better Morris and University Branch link up arise from the fact I am the creator of the Morris Branch idea in 1956-58.

A strong Chamber of Commerce executive, such as Bob ... Read more

From George Brooks of Fort Myers, FL on 05/29/05

0 comments | Vote/comment on this entry



4 rating
(6 votes)
Turn the local school into a community school
Turn the local school into a community school to make full use its available resources:

- Providing lifelong learning programs
- Using the gym and PE equipment for community wellness
- Using the ... Read more

From Steve Lamb of Salem, OR on 05/27/05

6 comments | Vote/comment on this entry



4 rating
(15 votes)
Fund your school to the hilt
Small, rural communities that lose their elementary school soon die a quick death. In most small towns, the school is the center of all activity and the last hope of survival for the town. People in s... Read more

From Ben Adams of Mankato, MN on 05/19/05

15 comments | Vote/comment on this entry



2.5 rating
(2 votes)
Maintain quality schools
Unless you are a sport fan of Minnesota High School athletics, you won't understand.

In particular during the fall and winter seaons, when the StarTribune, Pioneer Press or any other daily in the... Read more

From James Fleming of Edina, MN on 05/16/05

2 comments | Vote/comment on this entry



1.5 rating
(3 votes)
End open enrollment
One of the largest problems in our rural communities is caused by the open enrollment system in our public schools.

The possible student body in our school is around 150, yet nearly 35 of those ki... Read more

From Paul Mackenzie of Herman, MN on 05/14/05

3 comments | Vote/comment on this entry



3 rating
(9 votes)
Revisit the one-room schoolhouse
Where I live, consolidation of high schools hasn't solved declining student population. Soon, all children in a large area will be bused to one large facility.

I favor an alternative, a charter ... Read more

From Carol Ford of Milan, MN on 05/10/05

9 comments | Vote/comment on this entry



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