Jenny Russell and Luke Mahin with RCED were interviewed recently by Topeka Capital Journal reporter Celia Llopis-Jepsen on rural school consolidation the third article in the six part series about rural Kansas education.
ABOUT THE SERIES
Sunday: Overview of rural education
Tuesday: Consolidation controversies
Wednesday: Alternative education
Thursday: Technical education
Friday: Rural legislative priorities
Rural Majority: School consolidation complex, controversial
… For Russell, Republic County’s former economic development director, and Luke Mahin, its current one, rural economic development is a puzzle requiring creativity and determination. They tackle this challenge with zest, and say there are signs the county’s population is stabilizing.
“The outlook in national media on ‘rural’ is, ‘Man, you guys are just sitting out there with nooses around your neck, waiting for your town or county to die,’ ” says Mahin, who graduated from Pike Valley in 2005 and returned to the area after college. “We would have growth potential if housing were fixed.”
He points to a 2012 survey by Fort Hays State University of local employers that predicted 100 new jobs for Republic County within two years, and the expansion since then of a manufacturer that brought dozens not included in the report.
Yet Mahin and Russell say prospective renters and homeowners find few options in Republic County, and they believe based on conversations with employers that dozens of new workers commute from elsewhere as a result. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, half of Republic’s housing units were built before 1939.
The pair can rattle off recent projects they and others have facilitated to address this and similar challenges, from attracting new employers and an apartment developer to fundraising that helped the county join a state program granting loan assistance for people new to rural areas…
Read the full article here: http://cjonline.com/news/2015-03-23/rural-majority-school-consolidation-complex-controversial