Just a quick note to our members with an update on our advocacy work in Washington, DC., the 3 days spent in meetings on the hill and the outcomes for AIRSS and our rural schools.  First, the opportunity to meet with Rural School Statewide Executive Directors from around the United States and discuss the status and issues of our rural schools was invaluable.  Many of these colleagues have years and years of experience and knowledge, that I might learn from and draw upon.  The opportunity to discuss organizational issues helps me to understand the direction for AIRSS and a timeline we will be face.

 

Secondly, the annual legislative summit meeting, hosted by the National Rural Education Advocacy Coalition (NREAC) http://www.aasa.org/NREAC.aspx  is designed to assist state associations with advocacy at the national level, create a place for state directors to share concerns and experiences and have a voice on national policy as it relates to rural schools.

 

As I spend more time with this group it is very clear to me our (AIRSS) membership in the NREAC and our relationship with this organization is vital for our success in our advocacy efforts.  Three days on the “Hill” meeting with our lobbyist, our legislators, and representatives from the Department of Education and representatives of The Administration, allowed me to hear directly from various agencies and individuals on issues that will affect our rural schools.  I had the good fortune to meet with Senator Durbins staff, Congressman Bost and his staff, and the office of the U.S. Department of Agriculture – Rural Affairs Division. 

 

I would like to introduce you and personally thank the three individuals who are working tirelessly on policy and advocacy on behalf of rural and small schools.  Noelle Ellerson – Associate Executive Director, Sasha Pudelski – Assistant Director and Leslie Finnan – Policy Analyst.  These three top notch professionals have provided me great insight and support in learning the advocacy process, I look forward to our continued work. http://www.aasa.org/content.aspx?id=840 

 

Lastly, I will share with you a link for two very important documents on the specific work completed in 2015 and the plan going forward in 216.  These documents represent the Legislative Agenda for rural schools nationwide.  Developed in a caucus type meeting with Executive Directors from around the U.S. and the support of our legislative team mentioned above, this is the work behind the scenes that will take place throughout the next year.

 

This is why your support of the organization is important and matters.  You as a district individually could not afford this type of support and representation, please consider your financial support of AIRSS in coming year – It Matters and Makes a Difference!

AIRSS National Policy and Advocacy

                                           

NREAC 2016 Legislative Agenda                                 

 

 

For 2016, NREAC identified the following major federal advocacy priorities:

Focus on Rural Schools and Funding

NREAC urges Congress to maintain formula grants to provide a more reliable stream of funding to local school districts.

NREAC beseeches Congress to provide incentives, rather than unfunded mandates, to catalyze school improvement efforts in rural districts.

NREAC believes any competitive funds slated for a ‘rural set-aside’ or ‘rural-only’ competition should instead be directed to the Rural Education Achievement Program, a proven formula program that supports rural school innovation.

NREAC prioritizes the restoration to pre-sequester levels and opposes any across-the-board cuts.

NREAC supports a federal role that prioritizes investment in Title I and IDEA, recognizing them as the federal flagship initiatives. In light of the failure of federal and state governments to maintain special education funding, districts should be provided greater flexibility to meet the needs of all students. 

 

Every Student Succeeds Act

NREAC urges the U.S. Department of Education to expedite the promulgation of regulations on ESSA, to take care to consider the needs and capacity of rural schools when proposing new regulations, and to ensure that any regulations issued are consistent with the spirit and scope of the law.

NREAC believes ESSA regulations should emphasize that that states are empowered to make assessment and accountability decisions for local school districts.

 

Education Technology

NREAC strongly supports maintaining E-Rate as an element of the Universal Service Fund.

NREAC supports efforts at the federal level to address the homework gap through expanded access to connectivity at home.

 

School Nutrition

NREAC supports reimbursing schools when federal food service requirements result in loss of revenue.

NREAC recommends giving districts the option to waive out of unfunded federal food service requirements.

NREAC believes all licensing and certification requirements for school nutrition workers are a state responsibility.

NREAC opposes efforts to increase the administrative burden around eligibility for free and reduced lunch

 

Perkins CTE

NREAC believes Perkins CTE funds should remain formula based to states and districts.

NREAC believes Perkins should incentivize states to assist districts in providing more effective career counseling and exploration activities.

NREAC strongly supports efforts to streamline the local plan and reduce paperwork and reporting requirements.

 

Other Priorities

NREAC believes all school districts have a responsibility to maintain a safe and healthy learning environment for students, but geographic and economic challenges in rural communities make this reality more difficult.

NREAC wants to ensure RELs are funded to provide high quality research to rural schools

NREAC supports efforts at the federal level to assist rural districts in recruiting and retaining teachers and school personnel in hard to staff positions through loan forgiveness programs targeted at rural communities and districts

NREAC supports a greater federal investment in early education through the coordination and support of new and already existing school-based and community partnerships.

NREAC supports efforts to ensure Qualified Zone Academy Bonds are readily available to rural schools.

NREAC opposes any and all attempts to create adopt ‘backpack funding’ approaches to distributing federal funding at the state and local level or any policy that would allow federal funds to private schools.

NREAC supports the reauthorization and re-funding of the Secure Rural Schools program.

 

For 2015, NREAC identified the following major federal advocacy priorities:

 

 

Focus on Rural Schools and Funding

NREAC urges Congress to maintain formula grants to provide a more reliable stream of funding to local school districts.

NREAC beseeches Congress to provide incentives, rather than unfunded mandates, to catalyze school improvement efforts in rural districts.

NREAC believes any competitive funds slated for a ‘rural set-aside’ or ‘rural-only’ competition should instead be directed to the Rural Education Achievement Program, a proven formula program that supports rural school innovation.

NREAC prioritizes the restoration to pre-sequester levels and opposes any across-the-board cuts.

NREAC supports a federal role that prioritizes investment in Title I and IDEA, recognizing them as the federal flagship initiatives. In light of the failure of federal and state governments to maintain special education funding, districts should be provided greater flexibility to meet the needs of all students. NREAC supports the reauthorization and re-funding of the Secure Rural Schools program.

 

Elementary and Secondary Education Act

NREAC advocates for complete reauthorization of ESEA this year. Reauthorization should emphasize that that states should be empowered to make assessment and accountability decisions for local school districts.

NREAC supports the Formula Fairness campaign in its efforts to end Title I formula discrimination against disadvantaged rural students.

NREAC supports the All Children Are Equal Act and its inclusion within any ESEA reauthorization as a way to eliminate the unintended negative consequences of number weighting within the Title I formula. NREAC advocates for key eligibility changes to the REAP program to ensure more rural districts are able to receive the critical funding they need.

NREAC advocates for the inclusion of an Office of Rural Education Policy within the Department of Education within ESEA.

NREAC believes new data requests disproportionately burden rural districts and take away from the primary job of educating children.

NREAC deeply opposes any attempts to redirect Title I funding away from concentrations of students in poverty and to make Title I funding “portable” to public and private schools.

NREAC believes states should dictate the background check policies for school employees and other individuals who come into contact with students.

 

Education Technology

NREAC believes any reauthorization of ESEA should contain a stand-alone program providing funding for technology, whether current Title II Part D or a similar program

NREAC strongly supports maintaining E-Rate as an element of the Universal Service Fund.

 

School Nutrition

NREAC supports reimbursing schools when federal food service requirements result in loss of revenue. NREAC recommends giving districts the option to waive out of unfunded federal food service requirements.

NREAC believes all licensing and certification requirements for school nutrition workers are a state responsibility.

 

Other Priorities

NREAC believes all school districts have a responsibility to maintain a safe and healthy learning environment for students, but geographic and economic challenges in rural communities make this reality more difficult.

NREAC believes Perkins CTE funds should remain formula based to states and districts.

NREAC believes Perkins should incentivize states to assist districts in providing more effective career counseling and exploration activities.

NREAC supports efforts at the federal level to assist rural districts in recruiting and retaining teachers and school personnel in hard to staff positions.

NREAC supports a greater federal investment in early education through the coordination and support of new and already existing school-based and community partnerships.

NREAC supports efforts to ensure Qualified Zone Academy Bonds are readily available to rural schools.

 

 

 

 
Downloadable copy below

Contact Information

Contact us by form here.

 

Association of Illinois Rural and Small Schools

Office: Horrabin Hall #115G
Macomb, Illinois 61455

Phone: 618.924.8218

Email: execdir@airssedu.org 

© 2019 by The Association of Illinois Rural and Small Schools

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