AIRSS Leads Discussion on Issues Impacting Rural Schools
at IASB Joint Annual Conference 2019
On this past Saturday and Sunday, I was given the opportunity to serve as a panelist in two sessions focused on issues impacting rural and small school districts. This was the third year I have been a part of these panels. In my seven years as a superintendent, I have watched the number of people attending these sessions grow each year. The past two years have seen dramatic attendance growth as new sessions were recognized as a need by the Illinois Association of School Boards at the Annual Conference.
Small school districts are all experiencing many of the same hardships: teacher shortages, administrative shortages, transportation shortfalls, and growing numbers of students in poverty - to name just a few. These two forums allowed for open and honest discussion of what is working and not working in small districts. Being on the panel allows us to guide the dialogue, share our successes, our failures, and expand on the thoughts and ideas of those attending the sessions. On Saturday, the room was packed - as you can see in the pictures above and below. All tables were full, people were sitting on the floor, standing in the back, along the walls, and outside the door.
As a member of the AIRSS Board, this year's attendance served as another proof-positive that small districts need to collaborate and share their struggles and successes.
Sunday's coffee and conversation was for those board members and district leaders who are willing to stay a couple hours longer on Sunday to dive deeper into the issues discussed on Saturday.
In conclusion, both sessions were filled with great conversation regarding the issues facing rural and small school districts. Each meeting continued after the scheduled time as several attendees had additional questions, comments, and expressed the desire to be more involved. AIRSS is working on behalf all small district in Illinois at the State and National Level. More information about AIRSS can be found at https://www.airssedu.org/ and on Facebook by searching for and liking Association of Illinois Rural and Small Schools.
It is always refreshing and rewarding to participate in large group dialogue that focuses on issues and solutions that many rural and/or small school districts are facing head-on.
Dr. Mike Curry
Superintendent of Schools, Abingdon-Avon CUSD #276
Board Member - Association of Rural and Small Schools