Educators in Farmersburg, Indiana, held a rally Saturday, urging lawmakers to give more attention to rural public schools, specifically when it comes to funding.
School money follows the student in Indiana, and the Northeast Sullivan School Corporation has lost a big chunk of per-pupil funding in the past eight years – around $4 million – largely due to students leaving the district for better funded schools with more resources available. The district already closed some schools, and others could follow.
Superintendent Mark Baker, says it’s not a problem unique to his school district, but continues a vicious cycle.
“You have to make some really difficult choices and usually that comes down to programming and staffing. And so when people start to see programming go away, they start to go look for other schools,” he says.
Keith Gambill, vice president of the Indiana State Teachers Association, also spoke at the event. He says inadequate funding measures are stripping the rural community spirit away, starting in schools.
“We have to recognize how much control has been taking away from local school districts and has been placed with the state, and as that has happened, funding has been choked off at the state to our small rural communities,” he says.
Other public school advocates at the rally also spoke out against the controversial financial management bill lawmakers will consider this week. They also encouraged people to contact their legislators about public education issues, and to vote for candidates who will prioritize rural school issues, like better broadband access.