A new state law creates a clearer exit strategy the next time the Iowa Department of Education orders that an Iowa school be shut down.
The new law addresses some technical problems that arose last year when the Russell Community School District in southcentral Iowa lost its accreditation, but Carol Greta, an attorney for the Department of Education, says the new law does not make it easier for the state to decommission a school.
"Not only was that not the intent, but there is absolutely no language in this bill that will accomplish that," Greta says. "So the reasons for removing accreditation have not been changed."
State officials began their review of the Russell district when a half-a-million dollar budget deficit was reported. Officials found inadequate course offerings and 43 percent of the students who lived within the Russell district had opted to use "open enrollment" in order to attend a neighboring school district.
Greta says when the state ordered the school shut down in 2008, there was no clear exit strategy.
"The law did not address such things as who has the authority to transfer property formerly owned by the district, who has authority to file year-end reports that are still mandatory even though the school district no longer exists as a corporate entity," Greta says.
According to Greta, since state standards were established, state officials have ordered just two school districts to shut down because they failed to meet those standards.