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Vision: To serve as The Voice for all Illinois rural and small schools.


Mission Statement: The Association of Illinois Rural and Small and Schools (AIRSS) shall serve its membership in matters concerning policy and legislation at the state and federal level, and ensure the rural context is included in all conversations.

Goals: Our efforts to address the needs, issues and concerns of our pk-12 rural and small schools are driven by three goals:

  • ADVOCATE – To advocate for better policy, legislation and funding to improve all Illinois rural and small schools, while preserving the concept of local control.


  • VOICE -To provide advice, counsel and testimony to governmental agencies, private entities and members of the Illinois General Assembly, the Executive branch and federal legislators on all matters concerning education in rural and small schools.


  • ACCESS – To elevate teachers and students access to high quality educational opportunities in all Illinois rural and small schools.


Who we are: The Association of Illinois Rural and Small Schools (AIRSS) is a statewide education association that is focused on policy and advocacy for Illinois rural and small schools. AIRSS is the state affiliate of the National Rural Education Association (NREA) and we work collaboratively on issues of national, state and local concerns that impact our rural and small schools.


The Association of Illinois Rural and Small Schools (AIRSS) has been supporting public education in rural communities for over forty years (since 1982), from our home partnership at Western Illinois University. The organization recognizes that historical and significant recent challenges have adversely impacted rural and small schools. 


In 2014 the AIRSS strategic planning and marketing committee re-repositioned the organization to create an active grassroots advocacy approach to supporting small and rural schools in Illinois. The shift in focus was to actively engage AIRSS as the voice for all rural and small schools and take a direct role in the work of state policy. Today that commitment to be “the voice” for rural and small schools is what guides every action.


As the only statewide association, solely focused on serving as the voice for rural and small schools, we are continually advocating on behalf of rural and small schools for legislation and policy that will encourage a high-quality education for all students.


In addition, AIRSS serves on and partners with a diverse group of organizations, boards and agencies that focus on strong advocacy on behalf of all public schools.  We provide the rural context in these conversations that is important to our rural advocacy. 

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