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Education Funding

5 Stories to Catch You Up on Rural Schools and Districts

By Jackie Mader — August 27, 2015 1 min read

As school starts up across the country, I’ve been following news from rural districts, and some of the issues they are facing. Here’s a snapshot of what’s happening:

1. 20 Districts Receive Grants for Rural STEM programs

According to Farmers’ Advance, 20 districts in Michigan, Indiana, and Ohio will receive funding to grow science, technology, engineering and math programs over the next few years.

2. Kansas School Aid Awarded Mostly to Rural Schools

Lawmakers in Kansas spoke out against the State Finance Council’s decision to award aid mostly to rural districts due to declining property values. Representatives for growing urban districts said politics were “injected” into the decision.

3. Arizona Expands Native American Scholarship Program

Gov. Doug Ducey signed legislation this year to expand a scholarship program that gives Native American families up to $5,000 to pay for private schools, online curriculum, or home school expenses. Gov. Ducey recently touted this bill on a visit the Navajo Nation.

4. North Dakota’s Small Districts Lack Teachers as School Begins

Small schools in western North Dakota are experiencing shortages of teachers and substitute teachers as the school year begins. To mitigate the shortages, the state’s Education Standards and Practices Board voted to allow “community experts” to teach non-core subject areas in middle and high schools.

5. North Dakota Governor Challenges New Teacher Policy

Directly related to the previous story, Gov. Jack Dalrymple is seeking changes to the new policy that allows “community experts” to fill open teaching positions. The governor’s proposal would ensure that the experts do not receive a teaching license, have work experience relevant to the teaching assignment, and are not eligible for the state’s teacher pension plan. Many small, rural districts are especially struggling to find teachers.

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Rural Education blog.