August 5, 2015
Beth Purvis, Illinois Secretary of Education sat down with Dr. Patrick M. Twomey who serves as the President of the Illinois Association of Rural and Small Schools (AIRSS) as well as the Superintendent of Macomb School District to discuss serious issues as they relate to rural and small schools throughout the state. They were joined by the Macomb Board of Education President Matt Bierman who was instrumental in organizing the meeting.
Secretary Purvis arrived at the school district office late in the afternoon on Wednesday and spent an hour and a half discussing serious issues and potential solutions to the state’s serious education issues. Dr. Twomey had reached out to colleagues throughout the state to collect a series of topics to discuss with the Secretary. Although it was a lengthy list, much of the conversation settled around the lack of funding in much of the state especially the rural areas where property taxes are an ineffective and inadequate way to fund schools. Secretary Purvis said, I’m a huge advocate for our rural and small schools. We are currently destroying the fabric of our state by under-funding many of the school systems.”
She went on to explain the primary goal of the next twelve months is changing the funding formula to an equitable not equal system so all children can receive an outstanding education regardless of where they live. Other topics of discussion included PTELL, forced consolidation, construction grants, transportation, proration of funding, competitive grants vs. formula driven, assessments, title I and Title II grants, and the current teacher shortages. In closing the meeting Secretary Purvis indicated this was exactly the type of meeting she had hoped for. It connected her directly to rural and small schools and how decisions made in Springfield will affect these schools. She will now maintain direct communications with Dr. Twomey to garner feedback from rural and small schools throughout the state as new policies and regulations are discussed and developed.