Consolidated Schools Lower Participation in After School Activities

Report finds that long bus rides mean less involvement in extra-curricular activities for rural school children in consolidated schools

Public education is available to all children across the United States. The quality of that education can vary from state to state and community to community. In rural areas, many differences are apparent.

Yet many rural schools face the same problems: distances between home and school, lack of appropriate state funding, lack of teachers and professional staff with advanced degrees, lack of preschool and early interventions to those needing special services, and poverty among rural students.

A recent study by the Rural School and Community Trust, Slow Motion: Traveling by School Bus in Consolidated Districts in West Virginia, by Lorna Jimerson, Ed.D. indicates other ramifications facing rural schools. Once they have consolidated, rural schools 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.

You can download a copy of the report at: You will be required to create a free user name and password. Information received from the Rural School and Community Trust is very valuable to anyone concerned about rural schools and the issues they face each and every day.

Contact: Kim Preston, or 402.687.2103 x 1022 for more information about the Center’s work on school issues.

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