Iowa’s small, rural schools provide outstanding education

BY STATE SENATOR KIM REYNOLDS I have received several emails from individuals this week voicing their outrage of a proposal by Senator McCoy, a prominent lawmaker from Des Moines, that would force the rapid consolidation of all school districts with less than 750 students enrolled. This misguided effort would affect 216 out of the 364 school districts in Iowa. This would affect nearly every school in District 48. 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 $7,879.10 per pupil, than it does to send a student to one of Iowa’s five largest schools, which costs on average $8,046.40 per pupil. Iowa’s small schools are a great asset to our communities and state. Small schools provide high quality educational services for students. The commitment and dedication from our teachers, administrators, and families to support our local schools is phenomenal. 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 percent. During the same amount of time, the average dropout rate for Iowa’s five largest schools was 4.3 percent. 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. He truly does not understand or know rural Iowa. Senator McCoy has stated on numerous occasions that he believes in consolidation of schools, cities and counties. I sat on Economic Growth, Economic Growth Budget Subcommittee and Rebuild Iowa in which we have spent countless hours talking about how we can spur economic growth in this state and how we help those impacted recover from the disasters of 2008. I don’t believe Senator McCoy’s message is consistent with what I have been listening to for 4 weeks. I have stated on numerous occasions that we should provide the infrastructure, remove the burdensome choking regulations, reduce taxes, and provide broadband telecommunications and our rural communities will thrive. The success of Rural Iowa contributes to the overall success of this state.