STRUM, Wis. (WEAU) - Lawmakers are taking a closer look at the needs of rural schools.
Legislators are forming a new task force to study how to help small town schools with their unique challenges.
Superintendent Craig Semingson with Eleva Strum schools said an increase in enrollment this year is an unusual but welcomed change. He said state revenue comes in based on a three year average, meaning they'll have to maintain that many students to see more money.
“I worry about the future if our enrollment starts to go down again, what's going to happen at Eleva Strum,” Semingson said.
“This year, we added a kindergarten teacher. We also have to purchase more technology and we need 100 percent of the revenue when we have an increase in enrollment and we have to wait three years to get that 100 percent, and that's if enrollment stays steady for three years.”
He said it's a common problem among many rural schools. State lawmakers said they hope to address issues small town schools have by forming a task force to study what's wrong and come up with a solution to help make a change.
“We're looking to get input from administrators on what works best in terms of best practices and how maybe they can get together and use each others' resources,” Rep. Rob Swearingen (R) said.
Semingson said declining enrollment is partly due to fewer jobs in the area, bringing in families and it's not easy to make cuts.
“In a larger district, you can increase your class size and cut back a teacher. When there's only one class, you can't do that,” Semingson said.
He said other challenges are increasing transportation expenses and a lack of Wi-Fi in the area.
“Every time we have to add another mile on the bus route, because we have a new student that we have to move back into the valley, that's $300 over the course of the year.”
“We're hoping in the end, it's positive win-win for rural schools in the state of Wisconsin,” Swearingen said.
“I appreciate it, there efforts because that might save rural education in Wisconsin,” Swearingen said.
District administrator Ron Walsh with Elk Mound schools said his district is actually seeing growing enrollment with more access to internet, but would like to offer more advanced placement courses.