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The State of Alaska is creating a position for director of rural schools within its education department.

Educators there praised the new post as a measure that could improve rural schools, save tiny ones, focus on the education of Native American students, and devise good alternatives for communities whose schools must close.

Matt Nevala, of Tundra Drums, writes that with very low enrollments,  several rural Alaska schools risk closure now. “Joe Banghart of the Iditarod School District says Shageluk, Takotna and Anvik project 12 to 14 students but could drop below that.”

Alaska’s state legislature passed a bill last year to cushion tiny schools somewhat. Rather than withdrawing funding abruptly when schools shrink below 10 students, the state reduces funding gradually over four years, so that communities and school boards have time to work out education plans for the remaining students.

For more on the new rural schools director position, contact Alaska’s Department of Education and Early Development

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