The research here, in this document published by the Rural School and Community Trust, speaks especially well to the discussion that took place at the recent public forum. The Futures Task Force will be making recommendations to the Board about school closure very soon. Make no mistake, minds have clearly been made up here, to pursue policies that are anything but research-based. Our hope is, that the community will start here, at Timbered Classrooms, for research to shape their own positions, but not stop here. Keep learning. They are our children, after all…
Get the full pdf here: Dollars & Sense …or keep scrolling for excerpts.
“Even though people may appreciate the benefits of small schools, too many think that the cost of such schools is prohibitive. To answer their concerns, Dollars & Sense summarizes research on the educational and social benefits of small schools and the negative effects of large schools on students, teachers, and members of the community, as well as the “diseconomies of scale” inherent in large schools. As the research shows, measuring the cost of education by graduates rather than by all students who go through the system suggests that small schools are a wise investment. In addition, Dollars & Sense answers two fundamental questions: can small schools be built cost effectively, and has anyone done so? Using data drawn from 489 schools submitted to design competitions in 1990-2001, Dollars & Sense answers both questions with a resounding yes, demonstrating that small schools are not prohibitively expensive. Investing tax dollars in small schools does make sense.”
“…They (School Boards) may think that renovation is a poor investment, because they don’t recognize the value of the existing structure and infrastructure and they don’t accurately estimate the costs of new construction. “Hidden costs” for new buildings may include significant expenses such as “water and sewer line extensions, student transportation, and road work” (Beaumont & Pianca, 2000, p. 18). Savings that could be gained by continuing to use existing services (and the value of even the shell of a facility) are often omitted from the equation when school boards consider renovation versus new construction. The benefits of renovating a school instead of building a new one go beyond the purely economic….”
“….Don’t Confuse Small Schools with “Schools Within a School” Many people realize that large schools are far from ideal places in which to teach and learn. Creating schools-within-a-school (SWaS) is one strategy for reducing school size. It is appropriate only to make use of an existing large high school building; it is not advisable to build a new facility so that it can be turned into SWaS. In more sparsely populated rural areas, a SWaS still draws students from a wide geographic area, so that many of them travel long distances to and from school. Busing is expensive and affects students and their families in many negative ways. An alternate, beneficial strategy for using an existing large building is to reconfigure the grade span in the facility to include students from kindergarten through 12th grade. In rural areas, drawing students from a wider age range will increase the pool, narrow the geographic area in which they live, and cut their transportation time to and from school. In any area, there are many social and pedagogical benefits to bringing students of all ages together, as well as benefits from making the school more accessible to the community. The best SWaS will serve elementary, middle, and high school students within the same facility….”
“…the idea persists that however beneficial small schools may be, they are prohibitively expensive. This report finds a contrary result by looking more closely at the supposed economies of large schools. Adding up the costs and weighing them against the benefits shows that small schools not only are better places in which to educate children, but that large schools themselves actually create significant diseconomies…”