NY educators gather to help strengthen rural schools

PLATTSBURGH, N.Y. (WCAX) Educators are examining some of the biggest challenges for schools in New York's North Country.

The Regional Rural Issues Forum took place in Plattsburgh Wednesday. A new census is expected to show a decline of upwards of one million people in the state. Officials say that is going to have a major impact on the amount of state dollars going to rural schools.

David Little with the Rural School Association of New York says most schools are seeing similar demographic changes. He says rural high schools have a 90 percent graduate rate, but that the state sees 75 of those students drop out when they get to the 2 or 4 year colleges because they cam from disadvantage districts.

"In rural areas, they have to try and figure out -- are we educating our children so they have their broadest opportunity, are we educating them to go to work wherever, or are we educating them to try and save our community so that they can come back and we've prepared them to do the kind of things that this community needs in order to survive. It's a real philosophical dilemma for rural schools and I don't know which one is right," Little said.

The RSA is traveling to rural school districts across the state until mid January. They will compile all the information to try to find solutions before presenting it to the state. There will be a task force made up of leaders with a background in education, mental health and more.