Ohio's education system is a complex matrix of public and private school districts and regional
education service providers. The system is comprised of local education agencies (LEAs) or
school districts that include 612 traditional public school districts, 49 joint vocational school
districts, 56 educational service centers (ESCs) and 356 community schools. Additionally, there
are 826 chartered non-public schools and educational service providers including 23 information
technology centers (ITCs) and eight education technology centers (EdTechs). Although
ESCs are defined as both LEAs (federal law) and school districts (state law) they are also an
intermediate service agency and, as evidenced in the Shared Services Survey, one of Ohio's
major educational service providers like the ITCs and Ed Techs.
Ohio's educational service providers have tremendous capacity to serve Ohio's public school entities. For example, ESCs employ approximately 13,000 personnel statewide. Additionally, there is considerable flexibility and latitude in current statute for school districts and local government entities to work together in collaborative, cost-sharing and effective ways
Several statewide initiatives (Ohio Teacher Evaluation System, Ohio Principal Evaluation System, Ohio Superintendent Evaluation System, Common Core Standards and others) are being implemented simultaneously requiring increased capacity at the state and regional levels to ensure the uniform, consistent and coordinated deployment of professional development and other training and support services. These, of course, are in addition to the ongoing professional development needs of teachers and administrators. According to the Shared Services Survey, over 90 percent of ESCs provide teacher and administrator professional development. However, only 56.4 percent of districts indicated they receive administrator professional development through a shared services arrangement and only 70.4 percent utilize outside resources for teacher professional development.
INFOhio, provides core services including library management software delivered through the ITCs, curricular resources, and educational technology services to support academic content standards and effective instruction for all schools. INFOhio serves 2,400 public schools and 150 nonpublic schools representing 1.2 million students or 84% of districts, and operates with 99% support efficiency.
According to INFOhio, it currently provides an annual cost savings of $43,500,000 by providing access to electronic databases through its partnership with Libraries Connect Ohio. Consideration should be given to aligning INFOhio with the regional shared service centers and the regional system of support for schools and districts. This would be aimed at aligning its services with ITCs, ESCs and EdTechs, expanding its outreach to public library districts and encouraging shared ventures with surrounding states.
Additional cost savings would be realized as the number of participating entities is expanded.