Welcome to the 2016-17 school year!
On behalf of our seven-member Board of Directors and our 600+ ESD employees, we wish you a year full of productivity and success.
I’m proud to work in education and witness the good work occurring in the school districts and communities of Southwest Washington. I spent a great deal of time on the road the past few months visiting seven new superintendents, reconnecting with first year superintendents and talking with ESD staff who work in the field. I am greatly impressed with the collaborative efforts to ensure students are successful in school and in life. Yes, there are challenges in education, but the work in which we are engaged is vitally important.
The ESD continues to grow so we can better serve school districts and families. Our Early Care and Education program, through a strong partnership with the Department of Early Learning, has received funding for more than 400 Early Childhood Education Assistance Program (ECEAP) slots across several counties. This increase in the number of children served is a testament to an effective program and reflection of the hard work of ESD 112 early learning and facilities staff. We have secured three new early learning facilities in the past two years!
In November, we will open the doors to the new Quest Academy, a program for students who require a more therapeutic learning environment. Working in partnership with the Cowlitz County school superintendents, we’re developing a solid educational program that fills a great need for Cowlitz County students. Quest will serve approximately 40 students this fall, and we expect that number to grow.
I have a new member of my Cabinet this year and he’s doing a wonderful job. Mike Nerland, former superintendent of Camas Public Schools, joined the ESD team as Assistant Superintendent of Teaching and Learning. Mike has already added so much knowledge, enthusiasm and insight to our work. It’s been gratifying seeing him engage with staff and effectively leading our largest division (including Specialized Student Services, Early Care and Education, and Student and School Success.)
I’m grateful for the opportunity to serve as ESD 112’s Superintendent. Our mission reflects the unique needs of our districts and that we deliver quality programs that produce successful outcomes for students and staff. We work to support healthy communities throughout Southwest Washington and implement programs and services that improve the quality of life for children and families. We train teachers as they work to continuously improve classroom instruction. We help districts save money through pooling our resources, so more time and resources can be directed to the classroom.
Our core responsibility is to add value to the educational process, and we don’t take that responsibility lightly. I look forward to continuing a successful journey with colleagues, community organizations, and school partners throughout this school year and beyond.
Timothy G. Merlino