Voluntary ESD merger beats state intervention

By Observer Upload April 27, 2010 02:09 pm

It makes perfect sense that the Union-Baker and Umatilla-Morrow education service districts will pursue a voluntary merger before the state mandates such a consolidation. The ESDs are just trying to beat the state to the punch. The 2009 session of the state Legislature came close to passing a mandatory consolidation bill. Odds are good that such a bill will indeed pass in the 2011 session.


The boards are acting proactively to keep the state from stirring the pot and possibly creating a toxic dish. Local control is important. Local people know local needs best. Local people know geography best, and what regions can work best together without unduly taxing human and

physical resources.

The merger is necessary in part because of the financial condition of the Union-Baker Education Service District, which faces challenges to meet its Public Employee Retirement System obligations, and other financial hurdles. The district has been facing financial woes for at least six years since it was investigated for alleged improprieties. Ever since, its leaders have been trying to focus on the original mission and strengthen a now leaner organization.

If the merger is successful, the two ESDs would become known as the InterMountain ESD on July 1, 2011. With good management and focus on the original mission, wise use of resources, and with cooperative relationships between various educational entities, that ESD has a good chance of success. Services to students would be strengthened. A stronger, more broad-based ESD with financial stability will best serve the needs of the region.