Educational Service Centers (ESCs) have been making a difference in Ohio’s schools for the past 95 years. 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.
The role of the county offices of education evolved and expanded over the next several decades. In the 1930s, they began assisting districts with fiscal and purchasing services; later in the 1960s, their responsibilities expanded again as they began operating special education programs and increased professional development and technical assistance for schools.
In 1995 Am. Sub. H.B. 117 changed the role of the “County School Districts” by redefining their responsibilities and renaming them “Educational Service Centers” - a statutory name change intended to reflect the evolving nature of ESC programs and services. The law also encouraged county offices to merge into regional agencies. On December 30th, 1996 a charter was issued declaring a merger of the county school districts of Defiance, Henry, Fulton and Williams into what is now known as the Northwest Ohio Educational Service Center (NWOESC).
The Northwest Ohio ESC employs approximately 350 regular staff members and additional staff in after-school or grant related programming. The staff serves over 25,000 students in 23 school districts across northwest Ohio, including Archbold, Ayersville, Bryan, Central, Defiance City, Edgerton, Edon Northwest, Evergreen, Fayette, Hicksville, Holgate, Liberty Center, Millcreek-West Unity, Montpelier, Napoleon, North Central, Northeastern, Patrick Henry, Pettisville, Pike-Delta-York, Stryker, Swanton and Wauseon. We partner with the Four County Career Center and Penta Career Center as well.
ESCs across the state continue to be vital and necessary components of Ohio’s educational system. Am. Sub. H.B. 115 of the 127th General Assembly created the Ohio Educational Regional Service System and positioned ESCs to serve as the conduit and delivery system for Ohio’s statewide school improvement and education reform efforts. Under the new law, ESCs must implement state or federally funded initiatives assigned to the service centers by the General Assembly or the Ohio Department of Education.