This research article draws attention to how the shale gas rush phenomenon is creating path dependence and threatening community viability. The article features an instrumental case that includes school districts across seven Appalachian Ohio counties: Belmont, Carroll, Columbiana, Guernsey, Harrison, Monroe, and Noble. There, it has become commonplace for public schools to lease oil and gas rights; to factor revenue from ad valorem taxes, industry-related construction, and pipeline construction into district budgets; and to engage in tax negotiations for natural gas-fired power plants and affiliated industrial growth. The case is prefaced by a review of school funding norms in the United States and a discussion of the influence that path dependence has on school funding in the Appalachian region. Following this, the case of eastern Ohio schools is presented. The article culminates with a list of actions stakeholders can take to foster public school and community viability in Appalachia.

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