Pennsylvania Association of Rural and Small Schools

News

To accomplish our mission of ensuring a quality education for all of Pennsylvania’s children, we must unite in purpose. As a collective of rural, small, and severely underfunded schools, we have power when we speak with one loud voice. Stay informed about the issues you need to know about when you connect here with us.

Spending Impact on Student Performance - A Rural Perspective

Every child should have an equal opportunity to attend a local public school that has adequate resources. Unfortunately, that is not always the case. We invite you to learn more about this topic by viewing the links below.

Notice of Vacancy

There is an employment opportunity in the Halifax Area School District for a speech and language clinician.

Speech and Language Clinician

We are seeking a full-time speech and language clinician. The successful candidate will possess a PA Instructional I or II certificate in speech/language impairment or educational specialist certification in speech/language pathology in schools in addition to ASHA and CCC and will have experience with social communication disorders/ASD and expressive language/writing skill development. Candidates must have high academic achievement, outstanding letters of recommendation, and possess integrity with excellent communication and interpersonal skills.

All applicants must submit the following: letter of interest, resume, PA standard application, PA certification, Act 34 and Act 151 clearances, FBI fingerprint check, and a copy of college transcripts. Physical exam, signed Act 24 Arrest Conviction Report, and Child Abuse Recognition Training will be required upon employment. Salary based on collective bargaining agreement. Direct information to: Dr. Michele M. Orner, Superintendent, Halifax Area School District, 3940 Peters Mountain Road, Halifax, PA 17032.

Application deadline is on Friday, April 28, 2017. EOE

Supervisor of Special Education

Wyalusing Area School District has an open position for a supervisor of special education. Please take a moment to review the supervisor of special education job description for full details.

PARSS Conference

The PARSS conference will have 25 PIL hours as a part of the conference. We have been approved!

EPLC Focus on Education Interview with Dr. Albert

Please take a moment to view the EPLC Focus on Education interview with Dr. Edward J. Albert, PARSS Executive Director. The interview initially aired on Sunday, October 9.

Talking Points for the Law Suit

People sometimes ask the question, “Why is PARSS a plaintiff in the current school funding lawsuit against the Commonwealth?” The question could as easily be, “How could PARSS not be a plaintiff in the lawsuit?”

PARSS came to be as an organization in 1982 as a result of rural school districts realizing that the state’s method of distributing its basic education subsidy was unfair to their districts. They were not considering factors such as poverty and low property values in that distribution. The state constitution states that all school-age children must receive a “thorough and appropriate education,” implying, but never directly stating that education is a property right of Pennsylvania’s citizens.

As a result, PARSS sued the state in 1989 for failing to obey the direction of the constitution. This suit eventually listed more than 250 school districts as plaintiffs and wound a torturous path through both Commonwealth Court and the Supreme Court for over nine years. The result was no decision, but rather a finding of “nonjusticiable,” meaning that this was a matter for the general assembly, not the courts. In other words, we lost and the judges punted.

For the intervening 15 years, PARSS worked to effect substantive change in the equity and fairness of school funding by working with the state’s governors and the general assembly. A major up in this up and down journey was PARSS drafting of a bill that, if passed and implemented, would have brought both funding equity and property tax relief to Pennsylvania. Senator James Rhoades, Chair of the Senate Education Committee, championed and sponsored the bill, and for some time this seemed to be a way forward, even though opposition abounded. Senator Rhoades’ tragic death in an automobile accident put an end to that opportunity.

A new day for school funding reform came with the election of Ed Rendell as governor. Governor Rendell believed, as we did, that the state’s school funding mechanisms were broken and he led a major effort to fix them. He also introduced the concept of inadequate funding. In other words, school funding was not just inequitable; it was also not enough money. A new distribution formula was created and adopted along with significant, if still insufficient, funds that went into the basic education appropriation.

Things looked promising for a while, until the election of Tom Corbett as governor. His first two budgets instituted cuts in school funding of more than a billion dollars and put school funding reform efforts in the ditch. The crisis created, which saw the institution of large cuts in teachers and education programs, did lead to the creation of the Basic Education Funding Commission by the legislature. A sound, intelligent distribution formula was created and implemented, but it was applied only to so called “new” money, not the entire appropriation, and both Governor Wolf and the general assembly have failed to support new revenues that would help right the foundering ship.

Being aware that this is an urgent matter and that no child can delay his or her education until the adults do the right thing, when the opportunity to be part of the current lawsuit arose, PARSS Board of Directors saw joining it to be important and imperative. Those who see it differently either don’t understand or are actively part of the problem.

Press Release

The Pennsylvania Association of Rural and Small Schools has announced the appointment of Edward Albert to be executive director. He is succeeding Joe Bard, who is retiring after 20 years as executive director.

Dr. Albert, a resident of Lebanon, has been serving as PARSS Assistant Executive Director for the past year and served on the PARSS board for over seven years. Additionally, Ed was a PASA board member for five years. Ed brings much experience to the position. He was an educator for over 38 years and served 31 of those years as an administrator at the building and central office levels. Ed served as the superintendent of Tulpehocken School District in Berks County from 2009-2015. He has served as a national educational consultant on a variety of topics for the past 25 years. His consulting includes keynote speeches, working with teachers and administrators, and conducting superintendent searches and board retreats. 

Karen Jez, president of the PARSS Board of Directors, said, "While we are sad to see Joe leave, we are fortunate to find someone of Ed's experience and ability to succeed him."

Your Opinion Matters

We construct our annual conference content around you, our members—and we want to hear what you think! We invite you to complete our online form and tell us what issues, speakers, or workshops you want to see and hear about at our spring conference. We welcome your suggestions and feedback!

2017 Annual PARSS Conference

Mark your calendars and make plans to attend our annual spring conference. You will enjoy two days of workshops, team-building activities, and specialized training, and leave with new tools and knowledge to effectively manage your school district.

Please visit our Annual Conference page for more information and to register. 

We will host the retreat at the Ramada Inn and Conference Center located in State College, Pennsylvania.

Kickoff: Wednesday, Apr. 26, 2017, at 7:00 p.m.
Conference: Thursday and Friday, April 27–28, 2017

Questions? Contact our conference planning coordinator, Ashley Heagy; she’s got all the answers!

Teacher Grants

Check out these amazing teacher grant opportunities!

Success Stories

Share in the triumphs of our member districts that have experienced success in launching new programs, strengthening community ties, and promoting healthy habits by reaching out and involving families. Read all about it on our Success Stories page.