Christian Science Monitor: Out of options, rural communities turn to charters to keep schooling local

EXCERPT: “Like many towns its size, Marine on St. Croix, Minn. – population 694 – is all too familiar with the challenge of keeping a small rural school alive. A years-long battle to stop the town’s only public school from closing came to an end earlier this year, with the district citing low enrollment rates as reason for shutting it down. In June, Marine Elementary School sent students off to summer break for the last time, marking what could have been the end of a nearly-170-year history of education in the town. Where one school door closed in Marine on St. Croix, however, another promptly opened. River Grove, a K-6 charter school established and run by members of the local community, welcomed its inaugural student body in August, drawing 166 students from Marine on St. Croix and the surrounding area. With an emphasis on outdoor learning and place-based lesson plans, River Grove is not an exact replacement for its traditional public predecessor. But its existence reflects a subtle yet notable trend across rural America in recent decades, as some small towns hit by school closures and consolidation consider charter schools as a way to re-establish or retain community schools.” FULLSTORY: