The Indiana Small and Rural Schools Association began as an outgrowth of the 1989 spring conference on rural schooling sponsored by the Indiana Department of Education. The conference, which was originally intended as a one-time event, turned out to be extremely popular with those in attendance. (The conferees included representatives from small-town and rural districts all over Indiana.) They were eager to share concerns and problems which they felt are unique to their school districts. The most frequent comment on the conference evaluation forms was a desire for an ongoing forum that would permit small-town and rural school people to share ideas and information and to be able to have an organization as a voice of small and rural schools/towns in Indiana. Out of that seed has grown the Indiana Small and Rural Schools Association (ISRSA).
For many years the Indiana Small and Rural Schools Association operated as a small band of individuals interested in carrying on the conversation of what was working in small and rural schools in our state. In past years, the ISRSA has worked and partnered with such organizations as the Indiana Educational Service Centers, Indiana Staff Development Council, the Indiana Association for the Supervision of Curriculum Development, the Indiana Association of Public School Superintendents, and Indiana School Boards Association , the Indiana Association of School Business Officials, the National Rural Education Association (their national conference was held in Indiana in 2004), the Indiana Department of Education, the National Rural Education Advocacy Coalition, and others.
Regular meetings were ongoing, publications and events infrequent. In 2007-2008, the ISRSA spent time reorganizing itself and made the commitment to become a stronger and more active voice for small and rural schools in Indiana. Dr. Robert Dalton agreed to work with the ISRSA as an advocate for small and rural schools with the legislature. During that time, the ISRSA made the commitment to grow the membership in order to be able to afford an Executive Director. Until this time, all members, board members, and others had offered their time, volunteering with assistance. The board agreed in order to grow, the ISRSA needed assistance from a person who had time to devote to the work of the ISRSA. In July, 2010, Mr. Larry John was employed as the first Executive Director of the Indiana Small and Rural School Association. In 2013, Mr. Scott Turney succeeded Larry John as Executive Director for the Indiana Small and Rural Schools Association.
The Indiana Small and Rural School Association is also proud that the home of the National Rural Education Association (www.nrea.net) has made its home in Indiana at Purdue University and is led by former Indiana superintendent, Dr. John Hill.