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Rural Ed Center Goals & Strategic Plan for 2011-2012

Earlier this fall, the REC Executive Board reviewed the goals and strategic plan.  Please take a few minutes to review the updated document.  If you have any questions, suggestions, or any other feedback please contact Jim Kowalkowski by email or phone (509-725-1481).


House Education Committee Visit to Davenport School District

October 5, 2011

Earlier this month, members of the House Education Committee visited Davenport School District.  Jim KowalkowskiI was able to spend some time with the committee members and he took them through a PowerPoint presentation that covered:

  • A special focus on the tax rates that local patrons are paying
  • How local voters are doing their share to support the school district
  • How much LEA they are scheduled to receive this school year
  • How much their starting cash reserve was at the end of August
  • Strategies his school district has used to help reduce expenditures 
  • Their partnership with their ESD
  • If their district loses all of their LEA, their cash reserve will be completely wiped out despite an increase in their local M & O Levy and significant personnel cuts they have made

The PowerPoint is in a PDF format.  If you would like to receive this in a format so you change and modify it for your particular use, please email Jim Kowalkowski and he will send you the original PowerPoint. 


Rural Ed Center Board Meeting Update

The REC held our board meeting at the WASA Summer Conference on Monday, June 27, 2011 in Spokane at the Red lion Hotel at the Park.  Here are documents that were handed out at the meeting:

REC Update Report

Updated REC Bylaws

REC Meeting Minutes from March 15, 2011

WASA Small Schools Committee Update

REC Membership Update

Compensation Technical Working Group


Update on Consolidation Efforts in Washington State From the Recent WASA Small Schools Conference

Click here to see the PowerPoint presented at the WASA Small Schools Conference March 14 & 15, 2011.


Consolidation’s Failing Grade in Indiana

Promising to “cut the fat” is often better politics than policy, as lawmakers pushing to consolidate school districts may soon learn. The idea—floated in at least a dozen states—calls for absorbing smaller districts into larger ones to reduce overhead costs and, ultimately, fund better student performance. 

But consolidation fails on both fronts, according to a new Indiana University study. Researchers crunched testing and budget data to conclude that of the Hoosier state’s 292 districts, the 49 with fewer than 1,000 students are, on average, the top-performing and most efficient. The smaller the district, in fact, the closer it came to the national benchmark for classroom spending (65 percent of the total budget); only the seven smallest school districts exceeded it overall. That, says education professor Jonathan Plucker, a study coauthor, should urge policymakers to focus less on politics—and more on what’s best for kids.

Click here to read the full article.


Washington State Legislature Report on School District Cost and Size

Click here to read the report the Washington State Legislature created on school district cost and size.


PowerPoint Presentation and Handouts from the Recent UPDATE ON CONSOLIDATION Presentation Made at the WSSDA Annual Conference in Spokane on November 18, 2010

What Works in Washington State ~ Focus on Rural School Graduation Rates

How Efficient Is School Administration?

Consolidation PowerPoint Presentation from WSSDA Conference

WASA Flyer ~ Small Schools Are Successful

Governor's Committee on Transforming Washington's Budget

Article:  In Defense of Small School Districts


Washington State University College of Education EduCoug Blog Highlighting the Rural Education Center

WSU's College of Education recently did a highlight on the Rural Education Center titled The Rural Education Center's Evolving MissionClick here to view the blog.

Letter to the Govenor from Jim Kowalkowski:  Veto School District Reorganization

The Governor was recently sent a letter requesting that she veto a section of proposed final budget establishes a “Statewide School District Reorganization Commission” that would reduce the number of school districts in our state and possibly the number of ESD’s.  Here is the letter from REC director Jim Kowalkowski.


Article Highlight:  Rural school districts are effective and don’t need consolidation


Some Washington state lawmakers have suggested that Washington's smaller and rural school districts be consolidated to save money. Jim Kowalkowski, superintendent at the rural Davenport School District and Director of the Rural Education center presents information that that our small and rural districts are efficient and are a “wise investment”.


Read the full article at:


WSSDA Regional Meeting

March 23, 2010

The following materials were distributed the recent WSSDA regional meeting at Riverside High School in Chattaroy, WA


WASA Small Schools Conference

March 1-2, 2010

The following PowerPoint was shown at the WASA Small Schools Conference Consolidation Mini Summit:


Materials from WSSDA Presentation Titled, "Consolidation of School Districts: What Does the Research Say and What Is Happening In Washington State"

The following materials were distributed during this session that was held on November 20, 2009 in Seattle at the WSSDA Annual Conference:

School Consolidation Mini Summit PowerPoint shown at WASA Small Schools Conference March 3, 2009


Rural Schools Consolidation Update

Many of you have expressed sincere and significant concerns over the following statements made by our governor:

“It's time for us to see a new path forward.  And that is the challenge before us, that is the opportunity before us." Gregoire said she's included a request for the state to study the viability of school consolidations in her budget proposal.  While working on that budget, she said, advisers told her "you cannot utter the word 'consolidation.'  Well, I am uttering the word 'consolidation,' "Gregoire said Wednesday. "I don't get it. I don't get why we have 50 (schools) that have less than 150 students. "Instead of several small schools with distinct staff, equipment and budgets, the public-school system should use "technology and transportation" to combine educational efforts and save money.  Community and technical colleges already have shown that online learning can be effective, Gregoire said.  Young people, she said, are adept at using new technology, "but we're still a book and a teacher. There's a new and a better way to do things."

Below are some research links on school consolidation that provide overwhelming evidence that small school districts are cost-effective and that forced consolidation often does NOT produce the economic savings that are often assumed.  It is interesting to note that a recent report from the Massachusetts Association of Schools Superintendent’s Small and Rural School District Task Force (attached) makes the following statement: “The most powerful rationale for consolidation is economic efficiency followed by increased curricular offerings. However, neither of these rationales have any strong support in research.”  The report than sites numerous research students that, over the past 50 years, show that over time, consolidation has not resulted in any significant savings in per-pupil costs.

For more information on research studies and articles on consolidation issues, please check out the following link:

The Rural School and Community Trust Website Link to Research on Consolidation:



Here are some other resources for you:

Fiscal Impacts of Consolidation Research Findings

Massachusetts Report On Effectiveness of Small Districts

Dollars & Sense Research on Small Schools


About Us


Rural Teacher Retention Study Completed!

Despite the perception that urban school districts have the most trouble holding on to quality teachers, a recent study has shown that rural school districts also face challenges attracting and training experienced, quality educators. In particular, beginning teachers move out of rural districts at a rate higher than their counterparts statewide.

With support from the Center for Strengthening the Teaching Profession, researchers at the University of Washington School of Education recently conducted a retention and mobility study of teachers in rural Washington public schools. Although there is some national research on rural school districts, this is the first major study of small and rural Washington state schools. Key findings include:

  • Overall teacher retention rates in small and rural districts are similar to districts statewide.
  • New teachers in small and rural districts move out of their district at somewhat higher rates than their counterparts statewide. Twenty percent of novice teachers in the small and rural districts change district compared with only 12 percent of novice teachers statewide.
  • Teacher retention rates are particularly low in Central Washington schools (Chelan, Douglas, Kittitas, Yakima, and Klickitat).

A full copy of the report can be found here .

To view the press release click here.

The Rural Education Center (REC) was established in 1987. The idea of the REC came out of a Washington Association of School Administrators (WASA) Small Schools Committee. The need for a research based service organization had been discussed for many years.

The College of Education at Washington State University and a group of small school districts decided to make an effort to work together. The original concept was then developed by Brian Talbott, who at the time was Superintendent of ESD 101, and Dr. Ray Smith, with advice and encouragement from WASA's Small Schools Committee.

Originally the major task for the REC was the development of a database on a variety of subjects. It consisted of financial reports, staffing and program information. The first years were spent compiling and sharing studies on subjects of interest to small schools such as, Cooperation vs. Consolidation, In-Service needs, Small School formula, Student Course selection, Drop-out rates of Small Schools and many others.

As the Directorship has changed so has the focus of the Center. To date the Center has become an increasingly important voice at the State level for small schools. State associations and legislative bodies hold the Center in high regard when asked for information on issues affecting small schools across Washington.

The Rural Education Center is located in the Davenport School District.  Davenport is a small and rural town located in Eastern Washington. The REC has a strong partnership with Washington State University’s College of Education. The REC is committed to providing assistance to small and rural districts throughout the state of Washington. It is the hope of the Board of Directors of the REC that this newly “remodeled” website will provide small school districts with timely and relevant information that will help each district cope with the ever-increasing demands of state and national reform efforts.


Our Current Members are:



ESD 101

ESD 105

ESD 112

ESD 113

ESD 123

ESD 171


Washington State Board of Education

WEA Eastern Washington


School Districts:

Almira Methow Valley
Benge Mill A
Boistfort Nespelem
Bridgeport Oakesdale
Colfax Odessa
Colton Okanogan
Columbia #206 Onion Creek
Crescent Orchard Prairie
Creston Orient
Curlew Orondo
Damman Palisades
Davenport Palouse
Dayton Pateros
Dixie Paterson
Easton Pomeroy
Eatonville Prescott
Entiat Queets-Clearwater
Freeman Quincy
Glenwood Republic
Great Northern Ritzville
Harrington Shaw Island
Inchelium Skykomish
Kahlotus Soap Lake
Kalama South Bend
Keller Starbuck
Kittitas Steptoe
Lacenter Tekoa
LaCrosse Tonasket
Lake Quinault Touchet
Lind Trout Lake
Mansfield Valley
Manson Waitsburg
Mary Walker Wilbur
McCleary Winlock












Rural Education Center