Expanding on Behalf of
New Jersey Students and Taxpayers
While preparing for a recent New Jersey State Board of Education presentation, I was once again reminded of the great foresight on the part of the New Jersey Legislature some 50 years ago when it created Educational Services Commissions (ESC). Designed to provide educational and administrative services to support public schools, ESC’s were also expected to operate in a cost effective manner to save taxpayer dollars, without sacrificing quality education for students. With five decades of history to review, it’s clear that ESC’s have performed true to the objective upon which they were founded.
With regard to the Middlesex Regional Educational Services Commission (MRESC) it is unlikely that many lawmakers involved in the 1966 legislation envisioned the extent to which it would embrace the concept and evolve into an organization that: operates seven special education schools; manages the largest state approved Co-op Pricing System in New Jersey; holds an annual Vendor’s Expo so public officials have a convenient and efficient way to compare products and services prior to allocating taxpayer funds; offers a Piscataway Career Center to young adults 21 and over with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities, and supports boards of education in their effort to identify highly qualified administrative candidates through a Superintendent Search Service.
Many factors account for our expansion from the modest Educational Services Commission founded in 1977 to the largest ESC in the state, with a presence in all 21 New Jersey counties. The primary reason is the visionary outlook and entrepreneurial mindset provided by our Board of Directors. In addition, the wholehearted support of our member districts has been critical in enabling us to expand our scope of services.
Originally named the Middlesex County Educational Services Commission (MCESC), the organization was founded based on the results from a needs assessment completed by the Middlesex County Superintendent of Schools, the Middlesex Association of School Administrators, and the Middlesex School Boards Association. The needs assessment was conducted to determine if there was sufficient interest in creating an Educational Services Commission to help Middlesex County districts manage the ever increasing number of well intended, but underfunded, state and federal special education mandates. Further motivation for conducting the needs assessment were the social changes, such as multi-cultural enrollments, along with higher insurance costs, increasing numbers of adolescents with substance abuse and/or delinquency issues, more stringent student transportation requirements, and the provision of nonpublic educational services.
Results from the needs assessment reflected strong interest from Middlesex County school officials for creating an Educational Services Commission. A subsequent proposal to establish the Middlesex County Educational Services Commission was unanimously approved by the New Jersey State Board of Education on December 7, 1977. Responsibilities included providing educational, transportation, and maintenance services to county school districts, including students living in Middlesex County but attending nonpublic schools in other counties.
Districts quickly established cooperative, shared service partnerships with the MCESC, rather than stretch themselves too thin trying to meet all of their obligations independently. Eventually, the MCESC began receiving requests for services from school districts and government agencies outside Middlesex County, because they had been unable to have their needs met locally. The MCESC Board of Directors ultimately requested a name change from the New Jersey State Board of Education to better reflect the expansion of our services to districts throughout New Jersey. The New Jersey State Board of Education unanimously approved the request in June, 2005.
The MRESC’s effort to support schools and government agencies has expanded since 1977 to include:
- Seven special education schools for students age 3-21 with Multiple Disabilities, Autism, Behavioral Disabilities and Psychiatric issues. Enrollment in our schools is at a record 800 students, and has helped districts realize tuition savings of over $20 million in FY 2014.
- A Coordinated Transportation Service, transporting over 14,000 students from approximately 275 schools in 12 counties. With assistance from over 80 bus companies, MRESC’s Coordinated Transportation Services saved nearly 70 districts approximately $2.5 million in FY 14.
- The MRESC Co-op Pricing System, established in 1994, helps schools and other public agencies (municipalities, housing authorities, etc.), save taxpayer dollars from cooperative purchasing on equipment and services ranging from: grounds and maintenance equipment; security cameras; school buses and card access systems; carpet and flooring; office supplies; and even commodities like electricity and natural gas. With nearly 900 members from every county in New Jersey, the MRESC Co-op Pricing System saves millions of taxpayer dollars each year. For example, MRESC Co-op member purchases from CDW-G Technology, Supplies & Services in FY 2014 & 2015 saved $18.6 million in taxpayer dollars. Aggregate savings on electricity has saved taxpayers $12.5 million since 2009, and Natural Gas Aggregation saved $5.1 million in 2012.
Clearly, the MRESC has far exceeded its initial mandate. Our Board of Directors looks forward to initiating more services and effectively responding to requests from school districts and government agencies to benefit the students and taxpayers of New Jersey. Please contact me at 732-777-9848 Ext. 3200, firstname.lastname@example.org, to tour our facilities. To learn more about our programs and services, please visit our website at www.mresc.k12.nj.us.