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Rural Wisconsin School Population Projected to Decline

Some rural school districts in Wisconsin could be poised to lose more than 30 percent of their populations by 2040 if current trends continue, according to a recent article in Wisconsin's The Daily Press.

The article features data from a report released this spring by the Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance, which projected that six counties could see school-age populations drop by more than 20 percent in the next two decades. Statewide, the school-age population is estimated to grow by about 3 percent between 2010 and 2040. 

Some rural schools in Wisconsin have expanded distance learning classes and are sharing teachers due to declining enrollments and cuts in state aid. In recent years, several rural schools have been forced to close.

About 23 percent of students in Wisconsin attend rural schools. Although states like Vermont have recently considered consolidating rural districts, Dale Knapp, research director of the Wisconsin Taxpayer's Alliance, told The Daily Press that consolidation is not a viable option in the state due to the large areas that rural districts serve and the potential increase in transportation costs if rural districts were consolidated. 

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