California spends up to $200,000 per student annually to support tiny schools in remote parts of the state, according to a Legislative Analyst’s report. Some schools in the High Sierra, the Imperial Valley and along the coast have single-digit enrollments, notes California Watch.
Peculiarly, the state education code, which runs thousands of pages long, does not prescribe the minimum number of students a school needs to receive state support.
That is why Mountain High School in Pinecrest in the Summerville Union High School District in Tuolumne County – with a total enrollment of two – gets a “necessary small school supplement” of $194,000 per student. So does South Fork High School in the same district. Cold Springs High, another district school in the hamlet of Long Barn in Stanislaus National Forest, has an enrollment of three. In addition to the supplemental funds, the state last year paid about $6,000 in base funding per student (generally referred to as “revenue limit” funding).
The state paid an extra $39 million last year to districts with very small schools. The report suggests setting a minimum school size of perhaps 20 students.
If it takes too long for students in remote locations to get to school, they could attend via video or enroll in a virtual school for less than $200,000 a year. For that matter, the state could pay for a personal tutor and have money left over.