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Rural Schools

The Bunker School District has cut its budget to educate about 240 kids in Reynolds County to $2.6 million from $3.6 million because of a lengthy property tax dispute between the Doe Run mining company and county assessor.
Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

A school district in the northeastern Missouri Ozarks that’s relied on property taxes from nearby lead mining for years is struggling to make do with significantly less funding. And it’s starting to show.

The classroom walls and hallways of the Bunker School District could all use a new coat of paint, yet Bunker only has enough money to paint five rooms over the summer break.

Several Missouri school districts arm their employees to prevent mass shootings. More schools in the state are considering it following a school shooting last month.
David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

A small number of rural Missouri school districts are allowing some teachers to carry concealed guns. Instead of following a state law that sets out how districts can arm teachers, the schools are using a private security firm to oversee training.

Some say that raises legal and liability questions.

Nearly 100 Missouri school districts contain parts of the Mark Twain National Forest but can't collect property taxes on it. A program splitting timber revenue profits between the U.S. Forest Service and those schools was renewed.
John W. Iwanski | Flickr

The federal spending plan approved by Congress this week renews a program splitting lumber profits between the U.S. Forest Service and rural school districts within federal forestland, after the equal sharing agreement lapsed in 2014.

Nearly 100 schools in southern Missouri contain parts of the Mark Twain National Forest. Some pruned budgets and put off buying buses after drops in timber payments of more than $100,000 each of the past two fiscal years.

Several Missouri school districts arm their employees to prevent mass shootings. More schools in the state are considering it following a school shooting last month.
David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

Glenwood Elementary School sits along a state highway between West Plains and the Arkansas border, in far south-central Missouri. If the school has an emergency, the Howell County Sheriff’s Department is more than 10 minutes away.

Superintendent Wayne Stewart said it’s a situation that makes the district of 240 students especially vulnerable if a shooter ever attacked.

“Very likely, the deed would be done by the time emergency responders got here,” he said.

McCormack Lake in the Mark Twain National Forest. Nearly 100 Missouri school districts contain parts of the federal land but can't collect property taxes on it.
doc jayhawk | Flickr

Superintendent Tim Hager’s district in central Missouri is surrounded by federal forestland in every direction.

School buses shuttle some of the 366 students in the Iron County C-4 School District between their homes dotted throughout the national forestland and the school campus in the small town of Viburnum.

The drive on tough gravel roads beats the buses up, Hager said, but he hasn’t been receiving the big checks from the U.S. Forest Service he once got, so he’s putting off buying a new bus.

Internet service at Glenwood R-8 School in West Plains is "very good, very reliable," superintendent Wayne Stewart said. It's not the same when his students go home.
Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

There are evenings where Brittney Berry’s five children fight over the internet connection at her rural south-central Missouri home. If one tries to research a homework assignment while another sibling streams a video, someone’s getting kicked offline.
 

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“It’s super crappy,” Berry said.

It’s a scenario that plays out in the homes of families throughout the vast Glenwood R-8 School District in Howell County near West Plains, as well as other rural parts of Missouri. There, families have few options for home internet access — none high-speed or cheap.