Graduate Research Papers


Open Access Graduate Research Paper


The controlled budget growth of school districts in Iowa has been determined by the State School Finance Formula since 1971. The basic idea was to promote "equal educational opportunity." But this descriptive research paper confirmed that, since the controlled budget is tied to the number of pupils enrolled, the actual percentage growth of the controlled budget in the majority of small, decreasing enrollment schools has not equaled the state's allowable percentage of controlled budget growth. This paper determined, through an open-ended survey of the superintendents of schools in Iowa with 325 or fewer students, the fiscal adjustments made for survival by small schools with declining enrollment and limited budget growth. The responses to question one of the survey indicated that, because of the controlled budget situation, a majority of small, declining enrollment schools in Iowa have been forced to make adjustments in their school administrative procedures since 1971. The reason for investigating the condition of school districts of 325 or fewer pupils with declining enrollment is that this size unit produces an average enrollment per grade of about 23 students and was used in proposed legislation. In order to survive and provide the education expected by their communities, adequate funding must be available for small schools. The pupil-based budget, established by the Iowa School Foundation Plan, is insufficient for a small, declining enrollment school. Fixed costs, for example, can no longer be cut in this size district. The future survival of local, community-centered school districts will depend upon the understanding of educational inter-relationships by both decision-makers and lay people as the need for sufficient funding of small, declining enrollment schools is considered. Suggestions for alternative methods of funding have been developed through an evaluation of the responses made by administrators to the second question in this survey. These ideas will be presented for legislative consideration by volunteer educational lobbyists.

Year of Submission


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Education


Department of Educational Psychology

First Advisor

Larry Kavich


If you are the rightful copyright holder of this dissertation or thesis and wish to have it removed from the Open Access Collection, please submit a request to and include clear identification of the work, preferably with URL.

Date Original


Object Description

1 PDF file (166 leaves)



File Format


Included in

Education Commons