Dream Forward: NCESD Board of Directors Attend AESA Annual Conference
In late November 2022, the Board of Directors for North Central ESD traveled to Atlanta, GA to attend the Annual Conference for the Association of Educational Service Agencies (AESA). The annual conference is specifically designed for Educational Service Agencies across the nation and features general sessions with national thought leaders, breakout sessions featuring best practices, and an Exhibit Hall with special events and networking opportunities.
The event provides NCESD leadership an opportunity to network with board members from Washington state, as well as throughout the country, explained Marcia Henkle, NCESD Board President.
“As a Board, we are able to learn alongside one another by connecting with other Educational Service Agencies and gain insight into operations, policies, and best practices of agencies in other states,” Henkle added.
Topics focused on throughout the conference included entrepreneurship, innovation, partnerships, leadership for tomorrow, Teaching and Learning, staff mental wellness, and staff recruitment and retention.
The opening General Session featured a speech from Cindy Marten, Deputy Secretary of the US Department of Education. During the fireside chat portion of the speech, Marten highlighted how her saying “Work Hard. Be Kind. Dream Big!” continues to show up in her career.
Evolving with the Times; Washington’s ESD Network in Action
NCESD had the opportunity to present alongside Puget Sound ESD and the Washington Association of Educational Service Districts (AESD) to share how over the last 10+ years, Washington’s nine Educational Service Districts have evolved into a strong statewide ESD network.
Terry Brandon, AESD Executive Board President Elect, started the presentation with a snapshot of K-12 education in Washington state and a brief history of the state’s ESDs and AESD Network.
John Welch, Superintendent of Puget Sound ESD, then explained the purpose of Washington’s ESDs in accordance with RCW28A.310.010:
- Provide cooperative and informational services to local school districts;
- Assist the superintendent of public instruction and the state board of education in the performance of their respective statutory or constitutional duties; and
- Provide services to school districts and to the Washington center for deaf and hard of hearing youth and the school for the blind to assure equal educational opportunities.
Because of their entrepreneurial nature and evolution over time, ESDs continue to expand services and support to Washington school districts. In 2021, for every $1 invested in ESDs from the state, ESDs returned $53 in educational programs and services. That is $389 in services for every student in the state.
Adding to the AESD’s evolution story, Dr. Michelle Price, Superintendent at North Central ESD, walked the audience through the recent redesign effort and the pieces that are essential for keeping the statewide system aligned and accountable.
“Over the past couple of years, we’ve had to get more refined in how we define the AESD as our needs have grown with the growing number of efforts we deliver collectively,” Dr. Price explained. “When we hired a Network Executive Director, we had to get more clear about differentiating the membership association from the statewide Network.”
To explain further, Dr. Price defined the AESD “Association” as a “membership association to support growth and development of ESD board members” and the AESD “Network” as a “statewide network that partners to deliver programs and services statewide.”
During the AESA Annual Conference, NCESD Superintendent Dr. Michelle Price presented alongside Puget Sound ESD and the AESD to share the journey of the nine Washington State ESDs coming together to better support school districts across the state.
The AESD Network’s approach to partnering with OPSI has evolved in the last 10+ years as well. Alongside the network of nine ESDs, the collective purpose of OSPI and AESD is to work together to support high quality instruction and learning for ALL students, everyday, and in every classroom.
While attending the annual conference is a great opportunity for the NCESD Board of Directors to learn from others, it is also a great reminder to see how far Washington state has come to better support the state’s public schools, Henkle said.
“I think the value of working together as a local Educational Service District Board, as well as working together as a comprehensive statewide delivery system is to assure that every school district receives an excellent level of service – regardless of location.”
The NCESD Board of Directors returned home with new, inspiring ideas and confirmation that the services and support the agency provides to regional districts helps create safe, healthy, and positive educational environments where students achieve high levels of success.