Formation and History of CORAS
The 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
Coalition of Rural and Appalachian Schools Board of Directors in early 1990's.
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.
Past CORAS Executive Directors
William E. Inman
Max W. Evans
Richard J. Fisher
Photo taken March 9, 2010: William Inman (not present), Max Evans, Dick Fisher and Dennis Meade.
AS 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
2011 - 12 - David Branch, Perry Hocking Educational Service Center
2012 - 13 - Lori Snyder Lowe, Morgan Local Schools