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Pennsylvania Association of Rural and Small Schools

Our History

PARSS began in 1983 as a group of public school superintendents who expressed concern that Pennsylvania students in rural and small school districts did not have access to the same quality of education afforded to students attending school in the more metropolitan areas of the state. Our focus and purpose was, and continues to be, on two primary issues: finance and quality education.

Since our inception more than 35 years ago, we have grown from a membership of 40 districts to over 170 school districts plus a few associate members, which are primarily intermediate units.

Education Equality

We share a genuine concern that most, if not all, statewide financial and policy decisions are based on a metropolitan model of school district organization. Rural and small school districts usually do not fit this model.

What Keeps Us Busy

  • Developing and heightening awareness of rural and small school district concerns with the Pennsylvania Department of Education, state school board, state legislature, and other statewide educational organizations
  • Establishing and sustaining relationships with regional and national education organizations
  • Maintaining consistent contact with related associations that have common interests in enhancing the quality of life in rural and small-town Pennsylvania
  • Utilizing our network to speak with one strong voice for rural and small school districts so we can make a positive contribution on their behalf

What We’ve Accomplished

Through effective and persistent petitioning actions, we have cultivated a more favorable climate for our schools by increasing awareness amongst legislators of the specific needs of the schools we represent. Our actions will continue to shape and improve rural and small school education throughout Pennsylvania.

PARSS has:

  • Initiated research activities aimed directly at rural and small school districts
  • Created a greater awareness among legislators regarding the unique need of rural and small schools
  • Positively impacted transportation funding, which is vital to the financial health of rural school districts
  • Acted as a major player during the two years of equity funding supplements
  • Introduced a funding scheme that will equalize funding and reduce local taxation by 72%
  • Proposed and succeeded in attaining small district assistance funding for many of our small school districts
  • Filed and actively pursue an equity lawsuit constructed to ensure a fair and appropriate amount of state funding and equal opportunities for a thorough and efficient education for students in small and rural school districts
  • Gained recognition as a credible and collective voice for rural and small school districts
  • Created “The Academy” for rural and small school superintendents and aspiring superintendents
  • Developed two websites directed to rural schools