As Enrollment Drops, Rural Indiana Districts Lose Funding, Make Cuts
School districts in rural Indiana are cutting teachers and closing buildings as enrollment numbers and funding continues to decline, Indiana Public Broadcasting reports.
The rural Argos Community Schools district in northern Indiana is profiled in the piece, which dives into the many cuts the district's superintendent has made as students have left the district. Because funding is heavily based on student numbers in Indiana, rural schools are often hit hard from losing just a few students. In an attempt to save money, the Argos Community Schools superintendent has also taken on the job of the elementary school principal, moved the central office into a school building, and has frozen salaries. Many staff members have retired early or been laid off.
Nearly 40 percent of schools in Indiana are rural and these schools serve a high percentage of students with disabilities. Rural schools in the state are also seeing an increase in English-learners, according to Indiana Public Media. Many rural districts don't have the teachers needed to educate these students and don't have the funds to buy resources or pay for more teachers.
Rural districts in other states like Iowa and Wisconsin are facing similar problems with dropping enrollment numbers and budgets. A report released earlier this year by a researcher at the University of Wisconsin-Madison found that rural school districts in the state have seen the greatest increase in costs per pupil than districts in other locales but are not receiving additional funds to cover these expenses. In Iowa, several school districts are consolidating or closing this year due to drops in enrollment numbers.