The most famous words of 1969, spoken by Neil Armstrong, also fittingly describe another initiative that occurred that same year benefitting education in our state. Fifty years later, the impact of that initiative is one that continues to provide giant leaps for school districts and other learning programs throughout Washington.

On April 25, 1969, Governor Dan Evans signed the Intermediate School District Act of 1969.  This statewide system replaced Washington’s 39 county-based school offices with 14 regionally-focused agencies designed to help provide a more efficient use of funds for local education, offer expanded expertise to schools, and supply needed services to school districts – particularly for the smaller and more rural communities throughout the state.

Those “Intermediate School Districts” that began operations on July 1, 1969, were eventually renamed in 1975 as the “Educational Service Districts” we know today, with the number of those regional agencies centralized to just nine during 1977.

Over the past five decades, communities throughout the state have come to rely on Washington’s Educational Service Districts as a valued resource in helping them fulfill the academic needs of their students.   Across the state, ESDs are a vital contributor in such areas as improving science and math programs, helping equalize services in special education, lending assistance to business operations, and taking on localized roles as needed by their regional communities.

ESDs are known throughout Washington’s schools as a resource that supplies educators and other school employees with the latest innovations in professional development … a helpful provider of cooperatives and fee-for-service programs that many schools could not afford on their own … a connection for administrative and informational services … and a genuine advocate in promoting educational excellence.

Just as the case has been ever since the first steps that started it all in 1969, the services schools receive from Washington’s ESDs will continue to change in order to meet the needs of their local schools.  Through the creative thinking of the partnerships from our schools and associated community organizations, your local ESD will maintain its ongoing mission to help young people succeed in their quest to reach for the stars.