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Rural News Roundup: Alaska Settles Lawsuit, Texas District Shuts Down Sports

An estimated $18 million would go to 40 of Alaska's rural, struggling schools in a settlement hashed out last week in an eight-year-old lawsuit.

Plaintiffs argued in Moore vs. State of Alaska that the state failed to meet its constitutional obligation to provide students an adequate education. A judge still must approve the agreement, and the state legislature would have to appropriate the funds.

According to an article in The Juneau Empire, in Juneau, Alaska, the rural schools involved would receive money to help retain teachers and offer an extra year or two of kindergarten. The story does a nice job explaining the case and giving local reaction.

This is the second time in the last year Alaska has agreed to settle an education-related lawsuit. The Kasayulie vs. State of Alaska case was settled in October, ending a 14-year battle about whether the state neglected to consistently fund grants for rural school construction. The state promised to replace or repair schools in five remote villages at an estimated cost of $146 million.

Rural Texas District Shuts Down Sports

Pigs might be flying in south Texas. One of the state's rural districts is planning to end its high school sports program to save money—and its schools.

This Wall Street Journal article is worth a read. As reporter Ann Zimmerman writes, "In sports-mad Texas, where Friday-night football is nearly as sacred as Sunday morning church services, one rural school district is taking the once-unthinkable step of shutting down its high-school sports program."

The state has threatened to close Premont Independent School District, where test scores are low and truancy is high. Budget cuts aren't helping, either. The story describes how the town (grudgingly) is getting behind the superintendent's proposal. It's a drastic move, for sure, but the district had few options. And, as one resident says in the article, "The school is the heart of the town."

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