The Board of Education has voted to wade into the controversial topic of school district consolidation. Department of Education director Ted Stilwell says this will put the board in a difficult position as some of them come from small towns. Stillwell proposes that the state provide merger incentives to the 20 smallest schools in Iowa over the next two years. Then, the Board of Education would recommend merger plans for the small schools that didn’t act within that two year period. Stilwell says it’s time to target the schools with fewer than 100 students, because kids in those schools aren’t getting as good an education as other students. Stilwell says teachers in small schools have half as much experience as teachers in larger schools, and yet they teach twice as many courses and earn about 12-thousand dollars less per year. The ACT scores of high schoolers from small schools are suffering, too. Stilwell says there may be some Iowa high schools with fewer than 200 students who’re doing well, but he says he “knows that’s not the case with a number of our small high schools.” The merger-incentive plan must be endorsed by the Legislature.
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