It’s not a coincidence two Page County based school districts are facing the same issue. It’s another example to show rural America’s struggles are real.

Since the first of the year Essex and South Page school districts have explained how dwindling enrollments, which are linked to district revenue, are forcing officials to make significant changes to keep doors open.

Essex has expressed interest in working with neighboring Stanton, another small school district in Montgomery County. South Page is in the works of sending its high school kids to Clarinda for classes it can’t offer because of lacks in staffing.

Better to be tagging along with someone else rather than get lost in the dust.

Rural Iowa is symbolic of what is happening to rural America. According to census statistics released earlier this year, 69 of Iowa’s 99 counties lost population since 2010. Most of the 30 counties that did not see a decline include and are clustered around one of the state’s cities. Next year is a census year.

Researchers at the University of Iowa are confident Iowa won’t lose one of its seats in the U.S. House of Representatives after the 2020 census. Those seats are related to a state’s population. But all bets are off after 2030. Iowa has four seats. There were six 31 years ago.

It’s been well stated. There are not as many rural families as there were 30 to 50 years ago. Rural families are also not as big, which means fewer children in those kinds of school districts like Essex and South Page.

There have been comments made how Essex and South Page will keep their identity knowing each school district will still be in existence, but have different operations. Rural America typically uses its school to show identity, and fears are when the school closes, everything else follows.

But retaining that identity can easily turn into an identity lost. In the last few years, Clarinda High has played football against OABCIG. Shenandoah has played AHSTW. Sounds more like vitamin supplements than a school district.

An off-the-cuff comment made during one of the South Page meetings last week was South Page was supposed to be done more than 20 years ago. But good management, board members and strategy since then made the school last.

Page County should be thrilled for what it has to offer; from still able to buy new cars to two hospitals.

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