The Midwest has lost more than 2,100 public schools in recent years as school districts hammered by population loss scrambled to shift students and save money.
From 2006-07 to 2010-11, the region saw a net loss of 2,110 K-12 schools, according to a USA TODAY analysis of U.S. Department of Education data. The rest of the nation had a net gain of 965, largely from growth in the West.
The closings — which often see students moved to other buildings in a district — can affect home prices and businesses and often take an emotional toll on residents.
"It's like losing the soul of the community," said Terry Ryan, vice president for Ohio Programs & Policy at the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, a public policy center focused on education. "It's a painful experience."