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Iowa education officials predict that there will be “another wave of consolidation” of schools and school districts, Staci Hupp writes in the Des Moines Register. She reports that enrollment has dropped in two-thirds of Iowa’s 362 school districts.
As enrollment falls, so do budgets. Each student lost to a school district means state funding is cut by $5,000. Sixty school districts are expected to lose money this year. “I see right now more districts in potential financial difficulty than I’ve seen in the almost nine years I’ve been doing this,” said Larry Sigel, school finance director for the Iowa Association of School Boards.
Last year, the Iowa legislature gave the state Board of Education the power to shut down school districts that run deficits for two years running. The board shut down one district last year. Hupp explains that some rural districts have raised money to keep their schools local while others have opted to shutter their districts.