Welcome to the Texas Association of Rural Schools (TARS)
A Legacy of Advocacy
Born out of a collective vision in 1990, the Texas Association of Rural Schools (TARS) was conceived during a spirited discussion among several dedicated superintendents at the Mid-Winter Conference. Recognizing a pressing need for a stronger voice for rural schools at the state level, this group of forward thinkers established TARS, with a focus on districts with an Average Daily Attendance (ADA) of 1600 or fewer, deeply connected to the agricultural economy.
This ground-breaking initiative was the brainchild of Superintendents Bill Grusendorf (San Saba ISD), Wayne Pierce (Rosebud-Lott ISD), and Jim Payne (Bruceville-Eddy ISD). With over 100 small school superintendents supporting this transformative idea, Grusendorf was appointed as the inaugural president of TARS. Their mission was clear - to safeguard the future of small schools by upholding the "small school formulas/adjustment" and advocating for the valuation of agricultural land based on its productivity alone.
Historic Legislative Victories
The "small school formulas/adjustment" became a reality in 1975, thanks to the tireless work of Dr. Richard Hooker of the University of Houston. Then serving as the Director of the Governor's Office of Education and Research under Governor Dolph Brisco, Dr. Hooker was instrumental in incorporating a sma:11school adjustment into law through HB 1126.
ln 1984, Representative Stan Schlueter played a pivotal role 'in the debate on HB 72, steadfastly advocating for fair treatment of small rural schools. His insistence on the involvement of Bill Grusendorf, then Chairman of Rural Affairs for the Equity Center, led to the preservation of the "small school formulas/adjustment" and the valuation of agricultural land based on its productivity alone.
TARS: A Driving Force for Change
Over the years, TARS has grown into a respected voice among state leadership. Through testifying before committees and directly interacting with legislators, the association has been at the forefront of representing the interests of rural schools.
Our Present and Future
Today, the association continually undertakes significant research, bolstering the efficiency of rural schools and resisting their consolidation. In collaboration with legislative allies such as Rep. Ernestine Glossbrenner and Rep. Paul Sadler, TARS has secured beneficial financial adjustments, such as the 100% application of the small school adjustment to Tier II of the Foundation School Program, a special adjustment to the facilities Allotment for districts below 400 ADA, and credit for K6-K8 schools paying tuition to another district for their secondary students.
Recent victories include the successful bid to make the Existing Debt Allotment (EDA) a permanent feature, as well as leading the charge to establish a state-wide health insurance program for small schools. TARS is committed to restoring its full benefits in the future.
At the heart of TARS lies the unwavering goal of enhancing the fiscal capacity of rural school districts, while narrowing the fiscal disparity between rural districts and their counterparts. We invite you to join us as we continue to champion the cause of rural education in Texas.