The rejection of three school mergers by the smaller school in each study makes clear that smaller schools are concerned with, among other things, adequate representation in any newly formed district.
Another impediment appears to be disparity in school tax rates among the various taxing jurisdictions. By virtue of their size, larger schools usually have larger amounts of outstanding debt. There is also the real concern of loss of community identity and the institution that is central to life in small rural communities.
The rejections occurred in spite of conclusions reached by well qualified professionals maintaining a comprehensive secondary education program cannot be sustained by small rural schools in the current fiscal environment.
In the interest of removing the impediments, it would seem the creation of a regional high school (proposed in the New York State Assembly last year) may be the way to go. Each community could maintain its own kindergarten-through-fifth-grade program and send its grades 9 to 12 students to the regional high school. Governance would be handled by a board with representatives from member districts and costs would be apportioned much as they are in the present Board of Cooperative Educational Services model.
Given the space constraints this suggestion cannot be fully explored, but it may be worthy of further consideration and development.