Small schools fight to keep doors open

I am writing on behalf of The Small Schools Coalition (SSC), which advocates for the small school model (250 students or fewer) due to the many benefits, which include, but are not limited to, safety, connectedness, student engagement, academic success and teacher retention. SSC along with parents, students, teachers and select school districts across the country have been fighting to keep the doors of small schools open. Bureaucracies have pinpointed the cost of small schools as the problem, when in fact research shows that small schools save money over time by improving graduation and teacher retention rates, decreasing violence within schools, increasing student happiness and achievement in college, all of which foster productive members of society that can effectively contribute to a growing economy.

Unfortunately, the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District, as described in “School district stands behind small schools” has also been afflicted by the school consolidation trend sweeping the globe. SSC would like to commend the school district of Kenai Peninsula for standing behind their small schools, particularly because they impact communities that have historically been marginalized.

No just incidentally, in 2010, we spent a transformational week with the Nanwalek, observing their place-based and traditional ways of incorporating their authentic culture into their community school in ways that had not been done since pre-Relocation Act. It was heartening, inspirational, and exemplary practice which would have been lost perhaps forever in a consolidated school.

We implore Representative Lynn Gattis to consider the ramifications of raising the minimum enrollment number for schools in the district and to explore the long-term benefits of continuing to fund these integral small learning communities.