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Published in Print: April 21, 1999, as Rural Education


Rural Education

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Consolidation Tips: School officials can take steps to ease the painful process of consolidating school districts, according to a report in the winter issue of The Rural Educator, a journal for rural and small schools.

Loss of community identity and jobs are just a few of the emotional issues that confront communities that consider school consolidation--either voluntarily or by state mandate.

But eight Oklahoma districts studied for the report made the task easier by treating job security, accurate communication, and student support as high priorities as they voluntarily merged 16 school systems. They also tried to keep schools open even when district administrations were merged.

"The primary focus of school consolidation should be to expand the curricular and activity opportunities for students," the report added.

The 16 superintendents surveyed for the study cautioned against using strategies that they deemed unproductive. Those included unstructured, open-forum public meetings and using state-drafted feasibility studies to explain changes. Studies from the state, they said, "were viewed as standardized blueprints that failed to consider local community needs and values."

The authors of the report are Edward W. Chance, a professor of education leadership at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and Craig Cummins, the assistant superintendent of the 4,500-student Altus, Okla., schools.

Copies of the article are available from the National Rural Education Association, which is based in Colorado Springs, Colo., by calling (970) 491-7022, or by e-mail at

Rural Conference: The American Association of School Administrators is holding its 19th annual Rural/Small School Superintendents Conference July 11-14 on Amelia Island, Fla.

This year's theme is "Making the Case for Rural and Small Schools." One of the event's keynote speakers is Toni Haas, a co-director of the Annenberg Rural Challenge. She is slated to address the conference on forging a new purpose for education that is rooted in local communities.

Ms. Haas is the co-author of the recently published book Place Value: An Educator's Guide to Good Literature on Rural Lifeways, Environments, and Purposes in Education.

Participants may register at the event, but hotel reservations at the conference site must be made by May 27. More information is available by calling the AASA at (703) 875-0748, or on the World Wide Web at

-- Robert C. Johnston

Vol. 18, Issue 32, Page 5

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