What is an ESC?
ESCs Were Established in 1914 Through an Act of the Ohio General Assembly.
The law created 88 “County School Districts” and charged them with the task of “elevating the state’s system of education to a proper standard.” This effort entailed county office staff members drafting courses of study for school systems, providing in-service training for teachers, and assuring quality classroom instruction through supervision and evaluation.
Ohio’s Vital Learning Link: An Evolution
The role of the county offices evolved and expanded over the next several decades. In the 1930’s, they began assisting districts with fiscal and purchasing services; later, in the 1960’s their responsibilities expanded again as they began operating special education programs for schools.
The ESC Role Today
Today, “county school districts” or Educational Service Centers provide a myriad of services that include not only their original mandate, but gifted education programs, alternative school options, school improvement initiatives, early childhood education programs, technology assistance, student support services, and much more.
In 1995, Amended Substitute House Bill 117, changed the role of the “county school districts” by redefining their responsibilities, and renaming them “educational service centers.” The law also encouraged county offices to merge into regional agencies. Today, there are 53 educational service centers across the state providing vital services to approximately 95% of Ohio’s more than 600 public school districts. ESCs provide support and assistance to school districts, school-aged and preschool children, as well as community organizations throughout Ohio.
Increased Customer Choice: The Evolution Continues
In June 2013, Am. Sub. H.B. 95 granted local school districts greater choice in selection of ESCs. Districts were granted the ability to sever from the territory of an existing ESC and annex to the territory of another adjacent ESC. Granting districts greater choice in ESCs insures the ultimate accountability in customer satisfaction.
Elected Boards Ensure Proper Public Oversight and Accountability
Keeping with the tradition of maintaining local control of public schools, ESCs operate under the oversight of a locally-elected Governing Board. The day-to-day operations of ESCs are conducted through ESC superintendents, treasurers, and other administrators.
ESC Funding—ESCs, defined in both state and federal law as school districts, are public education agencies.
As such, ESCs receive some state funding to support operations. Despite their public and not-for-profit status, ESCs are unable to generate funds through taxation. Each ESC depends on revenues from the contracted delivery of services to districts or competition for public dollars and/or grant funds as their primary source of revenue.
A Vital Component to Ohio’s Educational System
ESCs are a vital and necessary component of Ohio’s educational service system and will continue to serve as the conduit and delivery system for Ohio’s school improvement and educational reforms.
Quality, Proximity, Capacity, Accessibility: Hallmarks of ESCs Success
Ohio’s 53 ESCs are geographically distributed across the state and serve the schools in their respective areas. ESCs have a unique understanding of the strengths and needs of their districts. ESCs use these insights to positively impact and improve instruction and student achievement outcomes. Ohio’s ESCs are adequately staffed with varied and experienced personnel.