National Federation of Urban and Suburban Districts

National Federation of Urban and Suburban School Districts Urban and Suburban School Districts

History of NFUSSD

In 1972-73, several superintendents began discussions about organizing an association of school districts of similar characteristics so that issues of mutual interest and concern could be discussed. These superintendents, led by Ted Bell, Granite, Utah; Ed Anderson, Anne Arundel, Maryland; Floyd Hall, Greenville, South Carolina; Eddie Gilbert, Mt. Prospect, Illinois; Arzell Ball, Shawnee Mission, Kansas; and Ben Willis, Chicago (retired) convened a meeting of themselves and their board members at the airport in Atlanta to discuss the formation of the Federation. They were of the opinion that the AASA and NSBA were dominated by representatives from large city and/or rural school districts. They believed that Urban-Suburban school district concerns lacked focus in both national associations. Whereas they did not wish to duplicate those associations, they did believe that 20-30 school districts that represented 5-6% of the total national population did have a purpose in being, and could on occasion influence the direction of national policy on education.

This group agreed to establish an association that was unique in several ways. One, it would commit to sharing and exchanging “of ideas, knowledge, and understanding” about topics and problems of member school districts; two, it would &rlquo;make studies of problems unique to” its members; three, it would &rlquo;disseminate results and information of successful practice” among its members; and, fourth, it would further the cause of education as determined by its own governing body, the delegate assembly. Unique, too, was its decision to be the only national association that would be jointly governed by board members and superintendents. In fact, the Bylaws require, when feasible (amended 1995), alternating presidents and an equal number of both to serve on the Executive Committee, and be voting delegates to the delegate assembly. Finally, it made 30 the maximum number that could be admitted to membership with membership by invitation only. Thus, the National Federation of Urban-Suburban School Districts (NFUSSD), NUFF-Said, the Federation was born (1973).

The first President elected was Ted Bell, Granite, Utah superintendent. The first Executive Consultant appointed was Ben Willis, retired, Chicago and Broward County, Florida, superintendent. Dr. Willis served until 1979 when he again retired and moved to Pompano Beach, Florida. The Federation then decided to affiliate with a University and/or locate nearer to Washington D.C. Dr. George Holmes, University of Virginia professor, declined to be considered but recommended that Dr. Frank E. Barham, his university colleague, be interviewed. Subsequently, the Search Committee selected Frank E. Barham to succeed Ben Willis as its Executive Consultant. Barham’s first Federation meeting was at the 1979 Spring meeting at the BWI airport in Anne Arundel County, Maryland. Barham agreed to accept the position with these stipulations: (1) future meetings would be "hosted" by member districts rather than being conducted at airports; and, (2) that membership recruitment would be the responsibility of member boards and superintendents rather than the executive consultant. The reason for these two stipulations were that it truly would remain a “member-driven” versus staff-driven Federation. He further agreed to take the position temporarily because of other duties and obligations, and he intended to use part of his fee to employ graduate students or assistants (preferably from member districts) to help operate the Federation business.

The membership since 1979 has ranged from 17-26. It never, by choice, has achieved the maximum of 30. Two member districts, Fairfax and Montgomery Counties, were charter members, dropped out, and rejoined later. Fairfax subsequently dropped out a second time in 1993. The remaining charter districts are Granite, Jordon, Greenville, Kanawha County; and Duval County.

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