Meeting Notes & History

Over 150 Teachers, Principals, Superintendents and State Leaders Attend January Meeting Recognizing Outstanding Teachers in the Region

At the January CORAS meeting 48 teachers from CORAS member districts were recognized for their outstanding contribution to education in their districts.  IMG_7678Patton College Dean, Renee Middleton, State Superintendent of Instruction , Mr. Paulo DeMaria and CORAS Executive Director helped to recognize the teachers who were nominated by criteria determined by individual districts.  Teachers received an plaque and letter of acknowledgement that was sent to Board of Education members in their district.

At the conclusion of this meeting, there was a press conference announcing a major research study being conducted by CORAS, Ohio University’s Gladys W. and David H. Patton College of Education, and four other institutions of higher learning – Marietta College, Muskingum University, University of Rio Grande, and Shawnee State University – will collaborate on this research project, which seeks to improve academic outcomes for rural Southeast Ohio students and prepare them for future employment opportunities. To that end, researchers will gather data relating to best practices in discipline, parent engagement, student achievement, attendance, student satisfaction, and teacher/administration support. Their goal is to identify processes, systems, and programs that mitigate the effects of poverty and its impact on academic outcomes for Southeast Ohio students.

These research-based findings will be useful for Ohio legislators as they prepare for Ohio’s 2019-20 biennial budget cycle. In fact, State Representative Robert Cupp (R-Lima), who is chairing the Ohio House Speaker’s Task Force on Education and Poverty, is slated to speak at the meeting.

Janetta King, Chair of Ohio University’s Board of Trustees, announced the initiative on behalf of Ohio University President Dr. M. Duane Nellis and the aforementioned colleges and universities, which comprise the Southeast Ohio Teacher Development Collaborative (SEO-TDC). The SEO-TDC seeks to not only recruit and retain high-quality teachers to Appalachia, but also use data and research to guide its curriculum.


60 CORAS Members Attend September Meeting

Over 60 members and guests attended the September CORAS Meeting on September 13 in Logan, Ohio where they heard a presentation  from Michael Collins, who represents Real Choice Ohio that is working to develop a website and other support materials to assist districts in retaining students in public schools.  The student retention assistance will include research, creation of best practice maters, sharing of best practice and training for public school districts.  The website is expected to be up and running by mid October.  You can subscribe to Real Choice by emailing  CORAS members Lori Snyder Lowe and Tom Perkins are on the Board of Directors for Real Choice.

At the meeting updates were given by Karen Boch who serves on Representative Robert Cupp’s Legislative Committee on Poverty impact on schools and learning. Dr. Murray and Lindsey Ladd from Ohio University explained a new research initiative that will be undertaken by CORAS and SEOTDC universities on Poverty and Appalachian Schools. Districts were asked to complete the following form on effective programs in their schools.

making a difference

State Board of Education Member, Stephanie Dodd then shared information from the State Board and asked for member input on several important issues the Board is currently working on.  CORAS members were very interested and offered input on the new State Strategic Plan that is taking place.

Stephanie Dodd 2 sept meeting

The meeting concluded with Ohio High School Athletic Association Director, Dr. Dan Ross who shared information regarding procedures to follow with athletic programs.

Dan Ross 2 Sept meeting

The Next Meeting will be held October 18 in Logan, Ohio at the Olde Dutch Inn.

Lucas Honored for Service as President

Randy Lucas, Superintendent of the East Central Ohio ESC, was honored at the June CORAS meeting for his service as the 2016-17 president of CORAS. Director Murray thanked Lucas for his time and commitment to the organization and presented him with the President’s plaque.

Lucas Pres award 6-6-17 #2

April 2017 Meeting Recognizes Ohio Teacher of the Year, Dustin Weaver

At the April CORAS meeting Ohio Teacher of the year, Dustin Weaver, High School English Teacher from Chillicothe Public Schools  was recognized for his achievement as 2016 Ohio Teacher of the Year.  Mr. Weaver shared with CORAS members What Teachers Want to Hear from Their District Superintendents. After his presentation, Mr. Weaver was given a standing ovation and then presented a plaque from Executive Director, Dr. Richard Murray.

Dustin Weaver Teacher of the year

In other business, Dr. Kirk Hamilton, Executive Director of BASA presented information on the new biennial budget.  His PowerPoint can be found by clicking on the following link: coras-041917. Dr. Hamilton also credited the work done by CORAS superintendents for bringing attention to the new ESSA legislation. Other speakers included Jim McGreavey from STRS who gave an update on the state of the retirement system and Dr. Karen Garza, President and CEO of Batelle for Kids who presented us with an update of her goals for BFK.

The next CORAS meeting will be Tuesday, June 6, 2017 at Eaglesticks, Zanesville, Ohio.

Community Supports  Scheduled at 4 Locations

Four Community Forums have been scheduled to discuss the topic of Student Substance Abuse and Community Supports.  The dates and locations are the following:

March 30, 6 PM; Host: Shawnee State University; Location: Portsmouth HS Conference Room, 1225 Gallia Street, Portsmouth, Ohio 45662

April 4,  6 PM; Host: Ohio University; Location: Athens Community Center Rm. A/B, 701 East State Street, Athens, Ohio 45701

April 12, 6 PM; Host: Muskingum University and Marietta College; Location: McDonough Auditorium, Marietta College; 215 5th Street, Marietta, Ohio 45750

April 18, 2017 6 PM; Host: Rio Grande University; Location: Bob Evans Farms Hall Auditorium Room 118, Bevo Francis Drive, Rio Grande, Ohio 45674

March 15 Meeting Recognizes ESSA Team Leaders and 2016-17 Hicks Executive in Residence Tom Ash

60 members attended the March CORAS meeting held at the Ohio University Inn in Athens.  At this meeting, 13 Team Leaders who facilitated the CORAS response to the Ohio Plan of ESSA implementation were recognized for their leadership in this effort.  Those recognized and presented certificates were: Randy Lucas, Mark Murphy and Dan Leffingwell on Teacher Evaluation, Kyle Newton and Tom Perkins on Highly Qualified Teaching, Jeff Stricklett and Tim Winland on School Improvement, Matt Sheridan and Monte Bainter on Assessment, Karen Bock and Stephanie Starcher on Accountability and Renee Middleton and Cindy Hartman on Teacher and School Leader Academies.

In addition, Mr. Tom Ash was presented the Hicks Executive in Residence Award by Executive Director, Dr. Dick Murray (see story below). 


In other business, Ms. Karen Boch, Superintendent of Wellston City Schools was nominated for President Elect for the 2017-18 year.

Tom Ash Named 2016-17 Hicks Executive in Residence

Tom Ash Photo

The Coalition of Rural and Appalachian Schools is pleased to announce the 2016-17 Hicks Executive in Residence, Mr. Thomas P.  Ash.  Mr. Ash currently serves as the Director of Governmental Relations for the Buckeye Association of School Administrators.  In this capacity, he represents school district leaders from throughout Ohio before the Ohio General Assembly and various state agencies and organizations and provides technical assistance to BASA members. From this vantage point, he possesses a unique understanding of the current state of affairs of education in Ohio and across the country.  Prior to this position, he completed thirty-five years in public education with 21 of those as a superintendent in two school districts.

A graduate of Bowling Green and Youngstown State Universities, Ash served as the 30th President of BASA in 1999-2000 and also is the editor of The Management Guide for School Leaders, an annual reference publication for superintendents and central office administrators.

As part of his recognition as the Hicks Executive in Residence, Mr. Ash will provide two presentations.  One, “Witnessing the Death of a Profession?” will be held March 14 from 12:15 to 2:00 pm in room 105 in McCracken Hall on the Ohio University campus.  This presentation is open to the public and a light lunch will be served.  The second presentation, “The Budget and Other Alternate Realities,” will be presented at the March CORAS meeting to be held March 15 at the Ohio University Inn.


                                                    Ash presenting to faculty and students at the Patton College of Education

The Hicks Executive In Residence Award is named for Emeritus Professor Samuel Hicks who provided an endowment to Ohio University in order to attract outstanding educational executives and leaders to the Ohio University Campus each year.    The program, a forum for recognizing and honoring outstanding leaders of America’s educational institutions,   has been carried out annually in the spring of each year since its beginning in 1976.  The 42 Executives in Residence have been leaders drawn from both the national scene and from Ohio.  Among others, the list includes past graduates of the Ohio University program in educational administration, Ohio Superintendents of Public Instruction, Directors of National Administrator Associations, CEO’s of National Foundations, nationally prominent school superintendents, administrators in the US Office of Education and well known authors and educational researchers.

CORAS Superintendents Testify on ESSA Draft

ESSA CORAS team leaders met February 23 to develop a response to the ODE ESSA Implementation Plan for Ohio. The new plan which can be found CORAS response to Ohio’s Draft ESSA plan-4 was presented to the House Education Committee on March 9th by Superintendents Stephanie Starcher and Kyle Newton.  Thanks to everyone who worked to facilitate this process.

2017-03-09 20.46.46Starcher and Newton testimony (2)

Meeting Notes

CORAS Superintendents, Teachers, Principals and University Faculty Work on ESSA Recommendations


February, 2016

At the October meeting of the Coalition of Rural and Appalachian Schools, 87 worked together to develop guidelines to recommend to the Ohio Department of Education as they implement new ESSA guidelines in the state of Ohio.  This work led to development of a new Policy Brief that was written by Dr. Charles Lowery of the Educational Administration Program at OU.  This Policy Brief was shared with legislators, policy makers  and also at the Ohio University Board of Trustees Meeting in January by Superintendent Jon Saxton, Patton College Dean Renee Middleton, Executive Director Richard Murray and Associate Director Cindy Hartman.  The recommendations were later revised by the Team Leaders and presented as testimony at a House Education Committee Hearing on March 9.  A copy of the Policy Brief and the revised recommendations can be found on the Research page.

IMG_2658                                2017-03-09 20.46.46Starcher and Newton testimony (2)
Saxton, Middleton and Murray               Superintendents Kyle Newton of Warren Local Schools and Dr. Stephanie
at the Ohio University Board of              Starcher of Fort Frye Local Schools testify on ESSA recommendations.
Trustee Meeting on January 20.

At the February, 2017  CORAS meeting, long time advocate for Appalachian Ohio, Dr. James Mahoning was honored for his work and presented a lifetime membership to CORAS.

We all would like to say thank you to Jim for his lifetime work with boys and girls and families from our region and wish him well in his retirement and the next adventure that awaits him.


January 20, 2016

51 District Treasurers Honored at CORAS January Meeting

At the January 20 meeting of the Coalition of Rural and Appalachian Schools, 51 district treasurers were honored for their contribution to their school district.  Mr. Richard Maxwell and David Varda were guest speakers who spoke on the importance of leadership in the treasurer’s position.  Dick Maxwell was also presented a plaque for his contribution to fair and equitable funding in Ohio as well as his extensive knowledge that has been shared with school leaders over the past several decades.

Executive Director Dr. Richard Murray also announced that the March Meeting date has been moved to February 18 at the Olde Dutch Inn in Logan. The focus of the meeting will be:  “Legislators want to hear from S.E. Ohio Superintendents.”  CORAS has been invited to host a special meeting (FEB. 18th) to gather school information from CORAS member Superintendents that will be used in the preparation of Ohio’s next Biennial Budget process. The meeting will be held at the Olde Dutch restaurant in Logan Ohio from 9:00 to 12:00 followed by lunch.
BASA’s Director of Government Relations Tom Ash will lead the meeting, and Policy Researcher Dr. Howard Fleeter will help us guide our discussion. This is a great opportunity for Superintendents to advocate for your schools and S.E. Ohio’ classrooms. District Superintendents are being asked to provide input to the following questions that will provide data to lead this discussion.  Superintendents are being asked to return answers to the following questions prior to the February meeting.

1.) What part of the current Ohio school funding formula creates the greatest problem for your school district?
Short term?
Long term?
2.) If you had a 5% increase in basic aid, what would you do with the additional money?
3.) What percent and (dollar amount) of your General Fund revenue goes to transportation? What programs would you offer with that amount of money?
4.) In what subject areas are you having the most difficulty finding teachers?
5.) What one thing could the General assembly do at little cost that would improve the quality of learning in your school district?
6.) What program or services from your ESC have you had to reduce or eliminate as a result of ESC cuts over the last two budgets?
7.) Why are more students not enrolling in AP classes in your district?
8.) What is the status of the use of technology (for both instruction and assessments) in your district?

October 15, 2015

Hope and Resilience Topic for October Meeting

Over 90 members and guests attended the October 15 meeting held in Logan, Ohio.

Dr. Jim Mahoney and Jamie Meade from  Battelle for Kids talked about the importance of Hope and Resilience for the students we serve.  Jamie’s PowerPoint presentation can be downloaded by clicking here.

In addition, Marla Bump, STRS Director of Governmental Relations will be spoke on STRS “Political/Government Update”.
Andy Thompson, State Representative and Heidi Huber, Ohioans Against Common Core, gave a presentation on HB 212 “Returning Local Controls to Boards of Education”

April 15, 2015

At the April CORAS meeting, William Phillis was recognized as the 2015 Hicks Executive in Residence.


Introduced by Dr. Barbara Hansen from Muskingum University and Battelle for Kids and Dr. Richard Murray, CORAS Executive Director, William Phillis was  recognized for his 57 years as an advocate for Ohio students, schools, families and communities.  Phillis who began his career as a teacher in Ross County, then moved to become a high school principal, local school superintendent, County Superintendent (Currently ESC’s), and JVS Superintendent before becoming Assistant of Public Instruction for the Ohio Department of Education, specializing in legislative relations.  In 1992, Mr. Phillis became the Executive Director of The Ohio Coalition for Equity and Adequacy of School Funding where he continue to work today.


In his remarks, Mr. Phillis stressed the importance of Public Education and identified lessons learned from the DeRolph litigation.  They are:  David can still beat Goliath; Litigation is sometimes necessary; State officials often must be prodded; and finally, there is a new Goliath — one that is more dangerous, onerous and more difficult to fight.  He then went on to outline five major state policy issues/tactics and one federal policy that must be addressed.  They are: 1.) Restore the Sate Board of Education to an all elected membership via a constitutional amendment; 2.) Keep the Thorough and Efficient Clause in the Ohio Constitution; 3.) Predicate state funding on the elements of a high quality education; 4.) Repeal the high stakes testing programs and establish an educational -sound accountability system; 5.) All schools that use public funds should be required to follow the same, laws and regulations; 6.) For profit education management companies must be prohibited from doing business in Ohio. Phillis concluded his remarks with the following statements:  “Being a public school administrator and/or educator is a profession, a passion, a sort of calling.  The public common school system is a concept and institution that we must totally embrace, nurture and sustain.  It is an institution that is truly American, totally engrained in the fabric of our social order.  To the extent that the public common school system is undermined or lost, likewise, America is undercut or vanquished.  Go forth and save the public common school system and American democracy!”

Formation and History of CORAS

CORAS 25 yearsThe Coalition of Rural and Appalachian Schools (CORAS) was established in 1988. Historically CORAS played a major role in Ohio’s struggle for equitable and quality education by initiating the effort (DeRolph v. State of Ohio). Since the school-funding reform effort dominated the decade of the 1990’s in Ohio, there may be some value in revisiting those formative years. Let us look back at the events, and some of the people who shaped the Coalition in those early years.

It was in 1986 when a group of area school superintendents began talking about equal educational opportunities for the children in rural southeastern Ohio. These school leaders belonged to an organization called the Southeastern Ohio Superintendents Association (SEOSA). In 1987 SEOSA initiated an effort called Promoting Appalachian and Rural Initiatives for Teaching Youth (P.A.R.I.T.Y.). This initiative was designed to communicate the lack of educational opportunity and school-funding inequities in poor rural  Appalachia school districts to members of the Ohio General Assembly. Needless to say the effort failed. Legislators listened, but provided little more than lip service to the problem. SEOSA and P.A.R.I.T.Y. were short on revenue, lacked effective leadership and had little political clout. Then a bureaucrat from Columbus urged superintendents to get organized, “if you ever expect to get anything for this region.”

In late 1987 and early 1988, four area school superintendents, Ron Smith, Tri-County JVS, Jacalyn Osborne, Nelsonville City, Jerry Stotts, Athens County, and Dick Fisher, Perry County, held a series of meetings with the Dean of the College of Education at Ohio University, Dr. Allen Myers. The purpose of the meetings was to discuss a variety of problems facing public schools in the region. As a result of these discussions, the Coalition of Rural and Appalachian Schools was organized. The Coalition was a merger of the Southeastern Ohio Superintendents Association (SEOSA) and the Council of Administrative Leadership in Southeastern Ohio, Kentucky, and West Virginia (SEOKWA) headed by Dr. Samuel Hicks, a professor at Ohio University.

The Coalition of Rural and Appalachian Schools, Centered at Ohio University, was officially established as a Regional Council of Governments on July 1, 1988. Ohio University College of Education became the center of operations by providing an office, a part-time Executive Director and financial support. Dr. William Inman was named Executive Director and Dr. Jacalyn Osborne was elected the first president of the Coalition. Members of the original CORAS Board of Directors were: Michael Richardson, Jackson City; Patricia Carr, Chillicothe City; Allen Myers, Ohio University; Gerald Stotts, Athens County; Larry Miller, Muskingum County; Richard Fisher, Perry County; Paul Dressel, Ohio University; Donald Jones, Guernsey County; Ronald Smith, Tri-County JVS; Richard Ronald, Tuscarawas County; Scott Howard, Ironton City; Richard Maxwell, Holmes County; and Kearney Lykins, Barnesville Exempted Village. The mission of the Coalition of Rural and Appalachian Schools was to secure “Equal Educational Opportunities for All Children in Ohio.

CORAS President Dick Fisher presents Ohio University College of Education Dean Allen Myers a plaque honoring his work in the formation of the Coalition of Rural and Appalachian Schools Centered at Ohio University. The presentation was made in the Spring of 1990

Front row (L to R) Dennis Meade, Minford Local; Patricia Carr, Chillicothe City; and Paul Dressel, Ohio University. Back row (L to R) Larry Miller, Muskingum County Schools; Dick Fisher, Perry County Schools; Bob Sigler, Ross County Schools; Richard Ronald, Tuscarawas County Schools; William E. Inman, Executive Director; Steve Grimm, Belmont County Schools; and John Shump, Claymont City.

Coalition of Rural and Appalachian Schools meeting in the 1990’s. (LtoR) Ron Smith, Tri-County JVs; Dick Smith, Eastern Local (Meigs); Steve Johnson, Northern Local; Jim McKinney, Morgan County Local; unidentified; Jerry Stotts (back to camera) Athens County Schools; and Don Knox, Ohio University.

Dick Fisher, Superintendent of Perry County Schools, served as Coalition of Rural and Appalachian Schools President in 1989-90.

Coalition of Rural and Appalachian Schools meeting in the early 1990’s. (LtoR) Fred Cook, Crooksville Exempted Village; Steve Johnson, Northern Local; John Ryan, Tri-County JVS; Rodney Spohn, Maysville Local; Bill King, New Lexington City; State Representative Paul Mechling, Jim Rosendahl, Southern Local (Perry) Pat Greenwood, Logan-Hocking Local; Joe Murtha, Logan-Hocking Local; Charles Bethel, Franklin Local; and Dick Fisher, Perry County Schools.

Coalition of Rural and Appalachian Schools meeting in 1992-93. (LtoR) State Senator Oliver Ocasek; Dr. Dennis Meade, Minford Local; Dr. Wells Singleton, Ohio University College of Education Dean; Dr Samuel I. Hicks, Ohio University; and Attorney Bob Baker.

Dr. Dennis Meade, Superintendent, Minford Local School District, (left) and Dr. Samuel I. Hicks. Dr. Meade served as President of the Coalition of Rural and Appalachian Schools in 1992-93 and presided over the annual Hicks Executive-in-Residence program.

Photo taken March 9, 2010: William Inman (not present), Max Evans, Dick Fisher and Dennis Meade.


CORAS Past Presidents

1988-89 – Jacalyn Osborne, Nelsonville-York City School District

1989-90 – Dick Fisher, Perry County Schools

1990-91 – Larry Miller, Muskingum County Schools

1991-92 – Fred Steinbrecher, Ridgewood Local School District

1992-93 – Dennis Meade, Minford Local School District

1993-94 – Tim Lairson, Federal Hocking Local School District

1994-95 – Jim Mahoney, East Muskingum Local School District

1995-96 – Joe Murtha, Logan-Hocking Local School District

1996-97 – Jerry Russell, Morgan Local School District

1997-98 – Charles Bethel, Coshocton County JVS

1998-99 – Jack Payton, Gallipolis City School District

1999-00 – Bob Caldwell, Wolf Creek Local School District

2000-01 – Dale Dickson, Perry-Hocking ESC

2001-02 – Dale Edwards, Harrison Hills City School District

2002-03 – John Simmons, Vinton County Local School District

2003-04 – Bob Caldwell, Wolf Creek Local School District

2004-05 – Thomas Wolfe, Conotton Valley-Union/Berne Union Local School Districts

2005-06 – Phil Satterfield, Paint Valley Local School District/Ross-Pike ESC

2006-07 – Charles Bizzari, Belmont-Harrison Joint Vocational School

2007-08 – Richard Murray, Muskingum Valley Educational Service Center

2008-09 – David Branch, Franklin Local School District

2009-10 – William Brelsford, Caldwell Exempted Village School District

2010-11 – Mark Miller, Buckeye Local School District

2012-12 – David Branch, Perry Hocking Educational Service Center

2012-13 – Lori Snyder Lowe, Morgan Local Schools

2013-14 – Tom Perkins, Northern Locals Schools in Perry County

2014-15 – Jon Saxton, Chillicothe City Schools

2015-16 – Mark Murphy, Tuscarawas Local Schools

2016-17 – Randy Lucas, East Central Ohio Schools

2017-18 – Jeff Stricklett, Washington Nile Schools