Wednesday, December 04, 2013
Covering Dallas, Monmouth, Independence, Falls City and surrounding areas since 1868
October 29, 2013
DALLAS -- The Dallas School Board is leaving its options open with regard to staying or withdrawing from the Willamette Education Service District for the 2014-15 school year.
Monday night the board approved submitting its notice of intent to withdraw from the WESD, which serves school districts in Polk, Marion and Yamhill counties.
Education service districts (ESD) receive state funding to provide school districts with specialized services, such as technology support and special education needs.
The notice is due next month, but it doesn't necessarily signal a wish to depart from the WESD. Final decisions have to be made in March. Dallas chose to submit the notice of intent for the 2011-12 and 2012-13 school years, but has not withdrawn in either.
There is little reason to believe that this year would be different.
"If I had to make a recommendation today, I would recommend that we stay in the WESD," said Dallas Superintendent Christy Perry. "My guess is that in March I will say `Let's stay with the WESD.' This is just protecting our right (to withdraw)."
Perry said WESD is still able to provide needed services at a lower cost; however, that may not be true for much longer.
When a district decides to leave an ESD, it directly receives the money used to provide services to purchase them on its own. Other districts -- including Salem-Keizer, McMinnville and Newberg -- have decided to leave the WESD and hire or contract for services.
However, small- and medium-sized districts like those in Polk County have more at stake. They can't replicate the economies of scale that WESD can, at least not now.
Perry said she would be hesitant to withdraw knowing as more districts do leave, WESD likely won't be able to offer small districts that are left the same cost savings.
She said eventually, however, the district may have to make a decision in its own best interest.
"There could come a point that it may be beneficial to withdraw," Perry said.