I am sometimes faced with the question: What does an Education Service District do? I can understand the confusion. After all, we here at Douglas ESD have a superintendent — me — but we don’t have principals. We have teachers, but they work in schools all over the county. And our Stephens Street site isn’t bustling with grade-schoolers.

One thing that there should be no confusion about is that we’re here to serve students. Our mission is to provide high-quality, cost-effective and locally responsive educational services to our 13 component school districts. We seek to add value to public education by collaborating with the districts in Douglas County to streamline services and provide support to teachers, administrators and staff.

How do we accomplish our mission? Our employees work directly with students in Douglas County schools, providing speech and language services, career and technical education initiatives, instructional services, special education support and much more. Others work from our Stephens Street location providing services such as human resources support, fiscal services, print services and other administrative assistance.

Soon we hope to serve students, educators and our community as a whole by helping to open the Roseburg Public Library through a partnership with the City of Roseburg. We view this as an opportunity to improve the services we currently offer and to expand our capacity to support Douglas County.

As our current facility, a 60-year-old former grocery store, ages, our board has determined that a new location would allow us to better serve our children and districts. Several options were studied — renovating our current facility, leasing an existing property somewhere else, building on a new site from the ground up — but the library option proved to be the most cost-effective. It also comes with the honor of working with the city to restore library services.

The city has obtained ownership of the Diamond Lake Boulevard property — formerly the headquarters branch of the Douglas County Library System — and hopes to open the facility in the fall. ESD plans to become an anchor tenant by the end of the year. About one-third of the facility’s 39,000 square feet within the library will be used for Douglas ESD office space. The balance will be used for books, computers, a new children’s library, a teen library and community meeting and training spaces.

As an anchor tenant, Douglas ESD plans to split the cost of utilities and maintenance for the building with the city. The ESD will also be providing the city with services already offered under the ESD umbrella, such as information technology support and administrative assistance. Additionally, ESD and City of Roseburg remodeling of the current structure will give way to an upgraded facility that will improve energy efficiency.

We also hope to expand our current courier system to include a book-sharing program with city- and volunteer-run library branches throughout the county. Eventually, we would like to use the Stephens Street site as an Early Learning Center to expand the services currently offered through our early learning hub, kindergarten partnership initiative and early intervention/early childhood special education programs.

So what does the Douglas Education Service District do, exactly? Service is in our name, and we provide a lot of it. We want our county’s school districts, educators and students to experience a rich and robust learning environment. We believe libraries play a vital role in creating that environment, and we look forward to helping make the Roseburg Public Library a reality.

Michael Lasher is superintendent of the Douglas Education Service District.

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ralpho

Sounds like a good idea. Libraries are for creative, expanding societies where the people are eager to learn for the sake of learning. Our society has largely disintegrated into one where knowledge is mostly used for material gain with everyone in competition with everyone else. I know the Stephens Street ESD building from having been a substitute teacher in Douglas County for thirty years. Your people's shiny new automobiles will look much nicer in the parking lot of the beautiful library building.

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