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Association of Illinois Rural and Small Schools Restructures with An Eye on Inclusion and Philanthropy

January 29, 2016

News Release: Association of Illinois Rural and Small Schools, Springfield, Illinois. David Ardrey, Executive Director

As a part of the ongoing work of the Association of Illinois Rural and Small Schools (AIRSS), the restructuring of AIRSS has given pause to consider changing our membership model on the behalf of small school districts in Illinois. We have listened to their concerns, viewpoint and ideas and given serious consideration to our restructuring.

Membership fees are a short-term quid pro quo type structure that works in certain organizations. The annual support model is a strategic investment model focused on the long-term mission and vision of the organization. We (AIRSS) are shifting to an investment model and asking for people's and school district's support.

We will seek support from a wider constituent group including individuals, targeted programmatic partnerships, a new Premiere Partner Program (to be announced at a future date), and schools and districts – our advocacy focus.

Changes and organizational restructuring have included the enhancement of the mission of AIRSS to support our PK-12 school’s needs, concerns and advocacy; an overhaul of the board membership to reflect the same, and the re-write of our bylaws to support these significant changes. As for membership, the specific changes will be reflected in the bullet points below and are supported by board action and our by-laws;

All 600+ rural and small schools and districts are considered advocate members, and all of AIRSS work and advocacy is on their behalf.

The philosophical and structural change from membership fees to annual support includes a reduction in cost. The new request for an annual sustaining membership investment is $400.

Each school/district sustaining membership comes with organizational representation. We have expanded that representation from 3 to 4 individuals, including the Superintendent, Principal, Teacher Leader and one School Board member. (This group is an important constituency, which will be used, and has, as “focus groups” regarding current issues and requests for information)

Invoice and AIRSS accomplishment documents attached with this e-mail at the link below.

https://gallery.mailchimp.com/5b897e7c188025ef4bfed7d78/files/AIRSS_Invoice_15_16_and_Membership_Bullet_Points.doc

In closing, as the only organization focused on issues in rural and small Illinois schools and communities, AIRSS is committed to making a difference to improve, support and advocate on your behalf. Your investment in AIRSS will allow us to continue this important work and champion the Rural Advantage on behalf of our children, teachers and communities – please consider supporting AIRSS today.

The work and benefits of an AIRSS Sustaining membership: Voice, advocacy, access, and the rural advantage

Mission and Vision focused on PK-12 schools and districts

Bylaws and board re-structuring

Work on key issues including school funding, mandate relief and consolidation

Organizational and board representation from the four key school sectors, Administrators, Building Leadership, Teachers Leaders and School Board Members

Relationship development with key state education leaders, State Superintendent Dr. Tony Smith, Secretary of Education-Dr. Beth Purvis, and Governor Rauner and staff.

Direct support for schools in the form of strategic partnerships and grants – modeled from our current Grants in Place Partnership with the Rural Schools Collaborative.

Development of our Premiere Partners Program – focused on key sector, strategic relationships with valued support of the rural schools and communities.

State wide recognition of our rural and small schools and communities, through the inaugural Governors Proclamation of Rural and Small Schools Day in Illinois – November 22, 2015.

The “100 School Journey” to visit each of you at our schools, to see the amazing work you are doing and then tell your story of need, accomplishment and excellence. This project will ultimately become the “600+ School Journey”.

Statewide Rural Schools Conference and Networking #WITCON - It’s coming. Currently in the planning and partnership phase

For more information, go the AIRSS website.

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