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Amid Budget Cuts, Rural Wisconsin Schools Share Teachers, Expand Distance Learning

Some rural schools in Wisconsin are sharing teachers and increasing distance learning classes to mitigate shrinking budgets and small enrollment numbers, according to a recent article in The Marshfield News-Herald

Since 2008, Wisconsin has reduced the amount of money it spends on each student by more than $1,000, the second largest drop of any state, according to a report by the Washington-based Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

In some cash strapped districts, elective teachers now split their day between multiple schools to help schools save money without cutting courses. Some high schools have partnered with other public schools or technical colleges to offer online elective courses, like Spanish, as well as required courses, like social studies.

Nationwide, rural schools have relied on distance learning for years, mostly to provide advanced or enrichment courses to students. A 2005 survey by the National Research Center on Rural Education Support found that 85 percent of districts surveyed had used distance education at some time, most often for foreign language, algebra, or psychology courses. 

The Associated Press recently reported that a growing number of Wisconsin school districts are also attempting to raise taxes to prevent further cuts and to pay for salaries and supplies. 

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