(Editor’s Note: Viewpoint submissions on this and other topics are always welcome as part of our goal to encourage community discussion and exchange of perspectives.)
May 8, 2019 — In the current special election there are are number of school board positions to vote for. There are the local school boards, Siuslaw and Mapleton, and there is the Lane Community College board. There is also the Lane Education Service District Board, also known as Lane ESD.
What does LESD do?
Vist its website at www.lesd.k12.or.us and you will find that it provides services for 16 school districts in Lane County. You will also find that Lane ESD, just like other school districts, has a superintendent (Tony Scurto, a gem of a guy) and they are governed by a citizen-elected Board of Directors.
Five of the Board positions represent geographical zones (ours is zone 4) and two are designated “at-large.”
But that’s not the impressive part. Lane ESD offers a safety net for children in small and middle-sized school districts who have special needs. Indeed, 84 percent of Lane ESD’s programs are for these children. It also offer School Improvement Services, such as Career and Technical Education and professional development. Finally, it offers technology support and administrative services for small districts that need those services as well. This includes courier services that our local library accesses.
At Siuslaw School District, I met with Lisa Utz from special services and Siuslaw High School vice-principal Garth Gerot. Currently, there are services children with behavioral and remedial academic needs are offered at the the elementary, middle and high school levels.
Lane ESD also provides a part-time school psychologist (who assesses special needs), a speech and language therapist and an augmentative communication specialist. Siuslaw teachers make good use Lane ESD professional development resources and Ms. Utz spoke very positively about the English Language Learner consortium that the district uses to improve instruction for ELL learners.
Upriver is the small Mapleton School District, where I met with Jodi O’Mara, an enthusiastic superintendent and elementary school principal.
She explained that “without Lane ESD, we would really suffer.”
Lane ESD provides Mapleton with specialists for speech and language, as well as occupational and physical therapy. It also provides a school psychologist and a behavioral specialist — an extra support adult who helps with emotional and behavioral needs is available for any student who just needs to talk to someone.
Lane ESD offers Mapleton technology support — email servers, firewall and an IT specialists they can call at any time. Ms. O’Mara also calls on Lane ESD Homeschool and Truancy Services that offer resources to help families facing those issues.
She said she is truly grateful for Lane ESD. “It is an amazing service that little districts need in order to give their kids the education they deserve.”