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