What does a School Mean to a Community? Assessing the Social and Economic Benefits of School to Rural Villages in New York

Lyson, Thomas A

Using data from the 1990 U.S. Census from the New York State Department of Education, I identify communty-level characteristics associated with the presence or absence of a school. My inquiry focuses on two sets of rural communites: those with populations of 500 or less and those with populations between 501 and 2,500.  I find that the social and economic welfare in all rural communities is higher in places that have schools. Further, in the smallest villages, which have fewer resources and fewer civic places, schools are especially critical to the social and economic well-being of the community. For policymakers, educational administrators, and local citizens it is important to understand that schools are vital to rural communities. The money that might be saved through consolidation could be forfeited in lost taxes, declining property values, and lost businesses.