The report of the Commission on the Fiscal Health of Rural School Districts, “A Sustainable Future for Rural Schools” comprehensively documents how regional differences have translated into students in rural school districts ending up with less than they need and deserve. The report recommends to:
- Substantially increase funding for the state’s rural school aid program and explore revising the formula to further close the gap between rural districts’ actual costs and their current level of state funding.
- Implement recommendations from the Special Commission on Student Transportation Efficiencies targeting student transportation costs.
- Provide funding to districts with substantial and sustained enrollment losses and move to a rolling foundation average in the foundation budget formula
- Increase incentives and supports for rural school districts to combine and form more cost-effective regional school districts and provide incentives and technical support for rural districts to adopt shared services agreements.
- Address the high costs of special education by providing extraordinary relief funding for rural districts.
- Cap the number of students leaving rural districts through the school choice program and further explore the unique impact of school choice, charter schools and vocational schools on rural school districts.
The FRCOG, through its seat on the RPAC, was a member of this Commission and will advocate for these recommendations that will improve the fiscal health and educational offerings of our students.