Community acceptance of rural school closures in Saskatchewan: An analysis of selected variables

Ivan W. Yackel

Abstract

This study investigated the relationship between rural communities' acceptance of the closure of their schools and the variables of school demography, community demography, staff redeployment, and length of official notice. Subjects for this study consisted of directors of education who were employed by boards of education that closed rural Saskatchewan schools between August 31, 1991 and August 31, 1996. The study was conducted in the spring of 1997 using the Rural School Closure Survey (see Appendix E) which was developed specifically for purposes of this research. School demography was examined in terms of enrollment, enrollment trends, grade configuration, staffing complement, age of the building, and condition of the building. Community demography was examined in terms of population, population trends, number of schools, and distance from the new school site. Staff redeployment was examined in terms of the percentage of professional and classified staff who were transferred to other positions within the school system following closure, and length of official notice was defined as the length of time between official notice of consideration of closure and official notice of closure. The following conclusions resulted: (1) There was a relationship between rural communities acceptance of school closure and the predictor set of variables which was composed of school demography, community demography, staff redeployment and length of official notice. (2) There was an independent relationship between rural communities' acceptance of school closure and the predictor set of school demography variables which was composed of enrollment, enrollment trends, grade configuration, staffing complement, age of building, and condition of the building. (3) There was an independent relationship between rural communities' acceptance of school closure and the predictor set of community demography variables which was composed of population, population trends, number of schools, and distance from the new school site. (4) There was not an independent relationship between rural communities' acceptance of school closure and the predictor set of staff redeployment variables which was composed of the percentages of teaching and non-teaching staff transferred to other positions within the school system following closure. (5) There was not an independent relationship between rural communities' acceptance of school closure and the variable of length of official notice.