WARRENSBURG, MO – Going into its twenty-seventh year of existence, the Missouri Association of Rural Education (MARE) is preparing to in about a week to meet with the twenty-one other states that are members of the National Rural Education Association to set up their agenda for 2014. Leading the charge for that state of Missouri will be Executive Director Dr. Ray V. Patrick.
Patrick has been executive director for fourteen years now with MARE, and has been involved since the beginning of the Association “When I came on board they were really looking for some one to take the reins and give the organization a shot in the arm” Patrick said.
Patrick was a superintendent of a Missouri rural school and believed that rural schools were not getting the representation that they should at the time. MARE encompasses 383 districts in the state of Missouri. These schools are all due paying members, with K-8 schools paying $225 a year and K-12 schools paying $325 a year. “Our membership is all inclusive, when a district joins it is a district membership”. A membership can be used in direct ways like aid in searching for a new superintendent, school janitorial staff and faculty, or school board members. The MARE also provides training for school board members, as 60 hours of training is required of them. “We have several breakout sessions that if a school has something unique in their district they can present to others”. Some of these sessions in the past have included a solar powered car that was brought to competitions, and a school that operated its own grocery store.
“MARE is a service organization”. MARE goes to different organizations or has different organizations come to them about different products or services that will help rural schools. “Our most recent partnership is with a company called IMS which provides scanning techniques.. to help schools scan their records”. MARE has sixty associate members not all associate members are endorsed and not all associate members are partners.
“Our biggest concern is always finance, is a rural school receiving the same amount of funding that a suburban or inner city school is”. MARE works with the school administrators coalition to pool money together to hire lobbyists at the state capitol. “We come together and try and identify a platform that is important to all of us”.
“Open enrollment vouchers is also an issue we’re always interested in, what the concern is that if you have a neighboring school with open enrollment you may loose students.”
February along with marking the twenty-seventh anniversary of the MARE will also be the last time they hold a yearly conference during this month. For 2014 and beyond they will be moving their yearly conference to the Fall.