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Alaskan schools shut down due to a dwindling rural population

The New York Times reported Wednesday that several schools in rural Alaska are closing down due to a decreasing rural population and a minimum enrollment requirement imposed by the State Legislature. 

Schools identified as having fewer than 10 students enrolled "face severe funding cuts," according to a State Legislature decision made in 1998. 

Some supporters of the higher enrollment requirement say the closing of these rural schools is inevitable.  "Schools may close, but the fact of the matter is, we're in the education business," said Gary Wilken, a former Republican state senator from Fairbanks.

Reluctance to provide funding for schools, like the Nikolski School in the Aleutian Islands, stems from standardized test scores indicating poor performance among rural and native students. 

Others view the closing of these native schools as a loss of culture and tradition.  A school being shut down is the "death of the community," according to Georgianna Lincoln, a former Democratic state senator.

Schools employ any methods available, such as advertising on Craigslist, to evade the annual statewide student counting period.  

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