Rural school districts, particularly in isolated or sparsely populated areas, can experience financial constraints, difficulties in attracting staff, and administrative limitations that hamper their ability to participate effectively in federal programs and to develop and maintain quality educational programs. A dominant theme found in the authors' fieldwork was that allocation of funds on a per pupil basis places rural districts at a disadvantage, largely because of diseconomies of small scale. Revision of funding mechanisms for federal education programs could ease implementation problems. The authors suggest further research to identify and assist "stressed" (severely needy) rural communities and emphasize the importance of assuming diversity, not uniformity, among rural districts. Rural areas are good places to try out new programs specially tailored to meet local needs. The research emphasis should be on identifying conditions under which various policy alternatives might prove effective in different rural settings.
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