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ACEF Journal Vol 3 Issue 1 December 2012

Yan now be educating only 600 students. This leads to a significant amount of wasted space, which is usually not tolerated in “real world” businesses. The current PDE formula for school capacity does not always account for the full range of programs that may be offered in rural schools. For example, federal regulations require a limited number of students with special education needs in the classroom. With current inclusion practices, the special education students are mainstreamed back into regular classrooms. This situation not only requires the school administration to effectively use classrooms, but also challenges the current PDE school capacity formula, which did not consider this factor. Also, current instructional methods encourage many “hands on” activities, which require more space in the classroom. Many old buildings in rural schools were originally designed as fixed rows of desk arrangement for whole class lecture types of instructional mode. To accommodate the new instructional methods of small group and hands-on activities, the future school capacity formula should also consider this challenge. Technology improvements could also reduce the number of seats that may reasonably fit into a regular classroom. For example, current technology improvement requires more computers in the classroom, which may also take more space than the traditional desk arrangement. Address the uniqueness of rural issues related to rural school building needs. Deferred maintenance in small rural schools “affects the morale, achievement, health and safety of everyone who uses them” (Lawrence, 2003, p. 15). This puts the school in danger of closing in some cases. First, funding is the main concern for rural school districts to maintain and upgrade their school facilities. Many funding formulas for school construction projects are based on the number of students. Rural schools usually have a small enrollment, and experience further enrollment decline, which put rural schools at a disadvantage when applying for grants and funding. As the findings of the study indicate, a majority of rural schools will experience a significant enrollment decline. Based on the current funding policy, they will have less construction money available. Also rural school districts tend to have lower property values, which lead to less money available to borrow. Smaller or less wealthy rural schools face more severe challenges. The state policy makers should continue to expand funding for rural school construction and expand commitment to rural schools, which experience the financial strain of improving school building conditions. Second, school facilities are not just about the number of classrooms, it is also about the quality of the learning environment. To meet today’s educational program needs, rural school districts have unique challenges. Transportation is a key cost issue in rural areas, particularly regarding the loss of instructional time transporting students. Urban school districts, serving denser populations, would probably not share facilities as much because they have enough students to fill special programs and most students walk so they do not lose instructional time bussing students. Rural schools may also need to have before and after-school programs because of the distances rural students must travel to get to school and return home. This is not necessarily true of urban schools. Thus, some rural schools may need to house students for longer periods of time to have a variety of ages of students for long periods of time. Third, rural school buildings are challenged by demands to meet federal mandates. Many aging rural schools experience problems with energy efficiency and other environmental conditions that interfere with classroom learning. Fifteen percent of rural schools in the survey had a functional age of 35 years or more. None of these schools reported their environmental 33 Vol. 3, No. 1, 2012


ACEF Journal Vol 3 Issue 1 December 2012
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