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Rural Iowa Districts Join Advocacy Group

More than 30 rural districts in Iowa have joined a recently-formed coalition to advocate for rural schools at the state's Capitol, according to a recent article in The Des Moines Register.

The group, Rural School Advocates of Iowa, was established earlier this year and is thought to be the first organization to advocate for the state's rural schools since the early 1990s. The coalition has pushed for flexibility in school spending and is also attempting to educate lawmakers on the unique challenges of rural schools.

The group's growth comes at a time when 14 Iowa districts are poised to merge this summer. For years, declining enrollment and budget shortages have forced the consolidation of districts in Iowa, according to The Des Moines Register. In 1990, there were 430 districts in the state, compared to 338 in the upcoming school year.

About 53 percent of schools in Iowa are rural, and more than 35 percent of the state's students attend rural schools, according to a recent report by The Rural School and Community Trust. The report found that in Iowa, "school districts depend heavily on local dollars and pay teachers among the lowest salaries in the United States." 

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