A national study by Iowa State University shows schools that merge provide a better education for students. The study examined completed or ongoing mergers of districts in eight states. Professor Thomas Alsbury says there were negatives such as communities losing an important symbol for their town.He says in about half of the towns where buildings were closed, they found the most negative situations. He says many towns were already experiencing an economic downturn, and the loss of the school adds to the problem. He says closing the building strips the community of its individual identity. He says the merge also often means the superintendant, but not teachers are cut. He says the merger also usually means one community will go from an entire school board to one representative on the other school district’s board. He says that gives the merged community a sense it loses some of its control over the school. But, he says there were many positives, like increased funding, more diversity among students, more teachers, and more flexibility in class choices. He says the increase in resources and courses eventually leads to better educated students. Alsbury says state funding to help with the merger, and planning to address the potential negatives, all were found to help districts and communities feel more positive about the merge. He says that positive feeling is important. He says that makes it much less of a blame game and creates less negativity toward the school board and superintendent of the merged district.
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