Students and administrators from small schools rallied at the statehouse today to oppose forced consolidation. Whiting superintendent Myron Ballain says small districts are often criticized for inefficiency, but he says low drop-out rates make up for higher spending per student. The superintendent got applause from kids at the gathering when he pointed out facts show small schools are superior, have better academic achievement and kids who feel they belong. Eighteen-year-old Shallee Hanson of Walnut, a senior from Walnut, says her teachers and classmates know her better because her school is small. She says she feels safe, and is “not just another face in the crowd”Nineteen-year-old Erick Whigham says because he went to a smaller school like Stanton, he had a better shot at participating in sports and extracurricular activities. Whigham’s now a freshman at Northwestern College, and he says his high school education was top notch.Stanton students ranked in the top three in the state in Iowa Tests of Basic Skills, and he says he scored 30 on his ACT exams, something he credits to quality teachers and their dedication to academics. Megan Shields, a senior at Lineville-Clio School, said her classmates at the smallest school in Iowa are not missing a thing. She says they have the opportunity to take more than 100 courses, including advanced college placement classes, and last year they had not a single dropout, and 75-percent of last year’s graduating class is in college today. Students, parents and staff from more than 50 small schools in Iowa gathered at the statehouse, asking legislators not only to oppose consolidation plans but to come up with another way to finance school building repairs. Dozens of small schools are suing the state over the local option sales tax law, which they say has let urban and suburban districts gain an “infrastructure edge” because they get local option sales taxes from retail sales in urban areas.
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