Now, a small town school district is taking drastic measures to avoid consolidation.
Hundreds of thousands of dollars are being lost in the Kirby School District.
When the school day begins, Reading, Writing and Arithmetic should be the only thing on Heather Jackson's mind, as she and a friend try and figure out a complex geometry problem.
But these days as a Kirby High School Sophomore in Pike County, she is pushing through a different kind of problem.
"We only have one custodian now," says Jackson.
Administrators were forced to make cuts, laying off three custodians, one bus driver, and four of its teachers. Heather can't substitute teach or drive a bus, but she knows how to push a mop.
"You have to clean your room. you have to clean your house," she says.
"I was very impressed with this young lady, nobody asked her to do this," says Superintendent Jeff Alexander. He says the word was slow to spread just what kind of situation the school district was facing.
"We wound up losing 48 students this year," he says. "If you will put a pencil to that, that is $6,267 per student, that's a total of $300,000."
Money the district will lose next year, that's why administrators are figuring out where to make cuts,
hard decisions now to save the school from consolidation in the future.
"That's exactly right," Alexander says.
The Kirby School District will have to keep 350 students in order not to consolidate. They are at 359 right now.
"I really think as far as our financial situation with these steps that we've taken, I think Kirby is going to be fine financially," the superintendent says.
The one factor that Alexander says is making everyone nervous, "That 350 number, that's the consolidation number."
Heather says "I want to graduate here, I want my little brother to and it makes a big difference when everyone else is helping."
Heather is proving that in and out of class.
Keeping enough students has been hard, says the superintendent, due to the timber mill closing and people moving out of Kirby for economic reasons.
Next month the district will start an early intervention program for advice on financing.