Schools and communities: A case study of two rural communities surviving an interdistrict agreement
In rural southwest Kansas, there exists two schools connected by an interdistrict agreement in which two towns 11 miles apart have agreed to allow the junior high (grades 6-8) to remain in one town and the high school (grades 9-12) to remain in the other town. Each community keeps a school entity which is one of the largest employers in town, helps maintain community cohesiveness, and provides the social hub for both communities. The agreement has been in existence for over 20 years, an alternate approach to school consolidation, and promotes a foundation for the sustainability of both communities. Thirty-two semi-structured interviews were involved in this qualitative study conducted in the communities of Chester and Mason. The interview questions probed into the symbiotic relationship between the community and the school districts in each of the respective towns and investigate the perception of social capital within each community before and after the agreement. The focus of the interview questions was to understand the effect this type of agreement has on the relationship between the schools and the communities. The two school boards designed a six-page document that outlined the interdistrict agreement which was implemented approximately eight months after initial discussions. Total change of school colors and mascot combined with the financial savings, community support, and positive leadership contribute to the success of interdistrict agreement. The bond between the two communities and the students in South County gets stronger as time passes. This study reveals a type of agreement that maintains the symbiotic relationship between school and community while strengthening social capital within surviving communities of two rural schools which were facing possible closure and searching for alternative to traditional consolidation.
Thesis (Ed.D.)-- Wichita State University, College of Education, Dept. of Counseling, Educational Leadership, Education and School Psychology