Celebrating 50 Years of IU13!
“Far and away the best prize that life has to offer is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.”
People frequently ask, “What is an IU?,” or they think of an IU classroom they remember from their childhood. What most people are not aware of is that there are 29 intermediate units across Pennsylvania, each operating independently yet working collaboratively to meet the needs of all students and to ensure that all schools have the tools and resources to help students reach their fullest potential. Intermediate Units are entrepreneurial, highly skilled, technology-rich, and agile providers of cost-effective, instructional, and operational services to school districts, charter schools, and nonpublic/private schools.
As IU13 celebrated the 50th anniversary of the founding of intermediate units in 1971, we seized the opportunity to reflect on our long, proud history of supporting education in Pennsylvania. This was a great time to honor the foundation of IU13 and the culture of innovation that help us develop new solutions in support of education.
Please keep reading to learn more about the History of Intermediate Units (IUs), our purpose, who we serve, and how we are funded. Then, keep scrolling to read some fun milestones and highlights of our past. Please enjoy.
NOTE: Click on the image above for fullscreen (and to use the “download PDF” if desired). Hover to use the right/left arrows to “turn” pages.
What is IU13?
Lancaster-Lebanon Intermediate Unit 13 (IU13) is an education service agency dedicated to delivering services to schools and communities across the state and beyond.
Over the years, we have expanded our reach—using our expertise to provide products and services not only to Lancaster and Lebanon counties’ 22 public school districts, but also to nonpublic schools, education agencies, parents, preschoolers, adult learners, businesses, municipalities, and more. Despite this growth, everything that we do supports our core mission of improving student learning.
We invite you to explore this program from our 50th Anniversary Celebration to discover how we might be able to help you—perhaps in ways you never imagined!
The History of Intermediate Units
In 1965, the Pennsylvania General Assembly mandated that the State Board of education prepare a plan for the development of intermediate units to replace the county superintendent of schools' offices. This meant that 67 county offices would be consolidated into 29 intermediate units. Five years later, on May 4, 1970, intermediate units came into existence under Act 102.
In July 1971, intermediate units across Pennsylvania opened their doors for the very first time.
The Purpose of Intermediate Units
While united in their effort to serve the needs of school districts and students, each of the 29 intermediate units is independent and tailors services to meet the needs of their local school districts and community. They use their expertise to design instructional programs and utilize new technologies to meet the unique needs of students and their families, and to create and expand educational options and opportunities.
Intermediate units form collaborative partnerships with schools and business partners statewide to leverage economies of scale and maximize efficiencies. They generate savings for their member districts by leading joint purchasing efforts for high-cost items such as health insurance, school supplies, and instructional resources/materials.
Who IUs Serve
Every year, Intermediate Units collectively serve 175,000 students through direct and indirect services and 50,000 educators through professional development, as well as 500 school districts, 170+ charter schools and 3,000+ nonpublic schools with behind-the-scenes instructional, technological, and business/operational solutions.
For 50 years, IUs have provided specialized services to school districts based on their unique needs. While each IU operates independently, they are united in their mission to serve education. Services are flexible, nimble, and have adapted over time. IUs apply their expertise to design instructional programs and utilize new technologies to meet the needs of students and their families, and to create and expand educational opportunities. While many of these services start locally, they are available for use statewide.
IUs also enhance school operations by providing administrative and management supports in the form of instructional programs, technology infrastructure, and business/operations.
How Intermediate Units Are Funded
Intermediate units are not directly funded by the state, nor are they taxing entities. Rather, intermediate units' operations are supported with funds generated from services they provide, as well as grants, entrepreneurial efforts, or other resources.
Milestones in IU13 History
1971-Present - IU13 Leadership
Since its founding 50+ years ago, IU13 has been led by 9 past Executive Directors: Dr. Harry Gerlach, Dr. L. Lloyd Ruoss, Dr. Harry Zechman, Dr. Richard Sherr, Dr. Linda Rhen, Dr. John Bonfield (interim), Dr. James Scott, Dr. Cynthia Burkhart, and Dr. Brian Barnhart. Leading us into our next 50 years is Matthew Stem, who took the helm in April 2022!
Meet our current leadership team at iu13.org/contact.
1987-88 - Natural Gas Consortium Formed
The 1987-88 school year marked IU13’s formation of a Natural Gas Consortium for 14 local school districts. The new venture anticipated approximately $75,000 in combined year-one cost savings as “well head” gas was acquired and transported through broker-arranged agreements. Today, IU13 manages consortia for Natural Gas, plus Bulk Fuels and Electricity, with estimated total savings of nearly $1.5M this year!
Learn more about IU13 Collaborative Purchasing Solutions at cps.iu13.org.
1989 - Lebanon Flagship Building Purchased
Our Lebanon flagship building at One Cumberland Street became part of IU13 in 1989. Its history, however, harkens back to 1907 when it was originally built to serve as the main office to the American Iron and Steel Manufacturing Company – the “largest manufacturer of bolts, nuts, rivets, and kindred articles in the world” – then purchased by Bethlehem Steel Corporation in 1916, with the building serving as its main office through 1986. Now a hub for IU13 services in Lebanon County, the site is filled with students of all ages, from children in Lebanon County Head Start and Preschool Early Intervention through adults in Community Education classes … yet the Bethlehem Steel teller’s window and safe remain!
Learn more about IU13 services and sites at https://iu13.org/publications.