And in the education community, it's often said that a decline in enrollment is often just the first domino to fall in a series - if personnel levels aren't soon shrunk to match enrollment, financial woes soon follow, and academic achievement plummets.
But those counties aren't necessarily the same as the counties that have consistently low enrollment: Wirt County is small but has always been small - and the bureaucracy correspondingly small.
"We consider ourselves to be very lean," Metz said.
He cautioned that his school district didn't save money by sharing services with a neighboring county - personnel costs actually increased with that shift.
"Because before, my financial person was doing that, so we actually took on another half-time employee to do that," he said.
Christine Campbell is the president-elect of the state branch of the American Federation of Teachers and a teacher in Pocahontas County, the state's most sparsely populated county. The school district has about 1,400 students, and the central office has four employees - a setup that is already more efficient than those in many other counties, she said.
"And you could combine Pocahontas County and, say, Webster County, and they look close on the map," she said. Pocahontas itself has schools more than an hour apart.
"So if you have administrators who need to go out to those schools, they can't physically do that."
Howard O'Cull, executive director of the state School Board Association, expects technology to play at least some role in countering that problem. And he emphasizes that no one is entertaining the idea of eliminating local school districts altogether for this very reason.
"The best government is often that which is closest to the people," he said, referring to remarks the governor made last week.
"So you can remove services and do it with technology and alternative arrangements, but you still need that touchstone with the people. You don't want to have to drive 90 minutes to do that."
Contact writer Shay Maunz at shay.ma...@dailymail.com or 304-348-4886.