A 2014 study done at the request of the Texas Legislature showed that school districts and charter schools save approximately $623.5 million a year by working and partnering with Education Service Centers.
A recent client satisfaction survey done by the Institute for Organizational Excellence at The University of Texas at Austin found that schools that utilize an ESC are very happy with the services they receive, with 96% of respondents indicating they are either satisfied or very satisfied.
ESCs provide nearly 400 services to Texas schools. These range from professional development, to business services, to human resource support. Here is a list of ESC Services.
About the ESCs
ESCs deliver training and consulting assistance to schools and educators over a wide range of service areas to enhance the education they are providing students at the local level. ESCs provide professional development to all areas of school personnel, secure products and services at reduced prices through cooperative purchasing agreements, provide technical assistance, and perform other activities that meet the needs of schools and allow educators to focus on educating.
ESCs also partner with private entities to assist schools in purchasing items and services. Combined, the twenty ESCs partner with over 9,600 vendors for a total of over $984 million worth of goods and services. The ESCs utilize economies of scale to help districts acquire educational tools that districts would not otherwise be able to purchase, saving money and improving efficiency. Examples of purchasing cooperatives include food purchasing, energy purchasing, human resource cooperatives, and fuel purchasing. Each of these allows schools to maximize funds to improve the efficiency of the education system.
To ensure that training and consulting assistance is customized to meet an individual school’s needs, ESCs continuously examine school data and maintain an open dialogue with educators about what services ESCs provide and how they can be improved. ESCs utilize customer feedback in order to ensure that services meet the needs of the schools they serve. This feedback includes annual evaluation instruments, including evaluations of every workshop conducted, and feedback from various advisory groups.
ESCs are non-taxing entities, and as such rely on funding from four different sources: state appropriated funds, state grant funds, federal grant funds, and local revenue generated from the sale of ESC services. Over time, state appropriated funds have been reduced and ESCs have been directed to be more self-sufficient and entrepreneurial. Currently, state appropriated funds make up less than 2% of all ESC funds. The majority of ESC funds are generated through federal grants (i.e. Head Start programs) and locally generated revenue.
ESCs deliver training and consulting assistance to schools and educators over a wide range of service areas to enhance the education they are providing students at the local level.
History of ESCs
ESCs play a critical role in carrying out Texas’ educational priorities as established by the governor, the legislature, and the commissioner.
The Texas Legislature created regional education service centers (ESCs) through statute in 1967. Chapter 8 of the Texas Education Code (TEC) requires that ESCs be located throughout the state, so each school district has the opportunity to be served by and to participate with an ESC on a voluntary basis. ESCs are established by the legislature for the purpose of: 1. Assisting schools in improving student performance; 2. Enabling schools to operate more efficiently and economically; and, 3. Implementing initiatives assigned by the Texas Legislature or the Commissioner of Education.
ESCs play a critical role in carrying out Texas’ educational priorities as established by the governor, the legislature, and the commissioner. Without ESC involvement, such initiatives could not be successfully accomplished. ESCs have also been an integral part of the statewide emergency response system. ESCs serve as decentralized agencies responsible for communicating on behalf of the state in statewide or regional emergencies by coordinating transportation or other types of relief within the state or to the affected region. During Hurricane Ike, Region 5 in Beaumont served as a coordinating hub for emergency relief. More recently, after the tragedy in West, Texas, destroyed local school buildings, Region 12 in Waco served as the chief coordinator, providing critical support in the collection of teaching materials and necessary items to help West return to a normal school routine as quickly as possible.
ESCs have developed and matured into an essential partner for schools and educators in Texas. As vital partners with local schools and the Texas Education Agency, ESCs provide timely training and much needed technical assistance to maximize state funding and impact student success and other educational and operational programs.