Consolidated Schools Lower Participation in After School Activities

Public education is available to all children across the United States. The quality of that education – and the challenge of delivering it – varies from one community to another, especially in rural areas.
Rural schools share some challenges, however.

A recent study by the Rural School and Community Trust, Slow Motion: Traveling by School Bus in Consolidated Districts in West Virginia, by Dr. Lorna Jimerson examines other ramifications of the distances between home and school. Once rural schools have consolidated, they experience more difficulties recruiting students into extra-curricular activities due to their longer bus rides and greater distance to travel between home and school.

Major findings of the report include: • Bus rides in districts with consolidated high schools are 43 percent longer than in districts that have not consolidated their schools. • Over 31 percent of students who ride the school bus in consolidated districts have rides of an hour or more each way – significant because the West Virginia state legislature has recommended one hour as the maximum length of bus rides for students, though this is not strictly enforced. • Long commutes to school mean students participate in fewer extra-curricular activities, and many students participate in no extra-curricular activities at all. In making the case for small schools, the Center for Rural Affairs and others have long linked involvement in extra-curricular activities to academic success in rural schools – lower dropout rates and higher grade point averages.

Download a copy of the report at: http://www.ruraledu.org/slowmotion.

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