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Be sure to vote for MESD board

by: Submitted Photo,

The May 15th Multnomah County special election presents an opportunity for voters to elect four directors to the Multnomah Education Service District Board of Directors. The other three director positions of the seven-member board will be on the ballot in 2009. But why should voters care?

Historically, Education Service Districts were loosely formed in 1849 by Oregon counties as a means for school districts to pool the costs of doing business. This included printing, coordinating and standardizing reading materials and school supplies, as well as sharing the costs for contracted, specialty employees.

Today in Multnomah County the MESD and the MESD Board, one of 21 Education Service Districts in Oregon, review and implement programs that directly affect the health and welfare of its eight school districts, 160 schools and 90,000 students. One would think that, with 750 employees and a $100 million budget using public funds, the MESD could not possibly 'run under the radar.' Yet it does at almost every special election.

The irony of the MESD is that it provides some of the most important services in the county but, like taking your car in for an oil change or attending a toothache (and I should know!), it is not always exciting for the recipient and definitely not glamorous. It is taken for granted that someone will provide that basic need.

Of all public entities, the MESD is unique it its mission to provide inclusive programs and services for all public school districts and their students. From All-Star academics to struggling students, the MESD offers school health services, immunizations, alternative education, Outdoor School, testing, and transitional training for the physically disabled.

And who else is willing and able to deal with students when they are ill at school, who are teen-age parents and who exhibit mental and emotional challenges?

Instead of accepting as a foregone conclusion that students will be lost in the system, the MESD mission is to find challenged students and show them alternative pathways for achievement. It is a celebration when a withdrawn student, branded as an outcast, or a teen, who wears his private anguish in public through confrontation, graduates from a school-to-work program.

While the stakes are high, my belief is that the work of the MESD today lays the foundation for the pattern of successes in life that will be enjoyed by our young men and women of tomorrow. Please cast your vote on May 15th for each of the four open director positions on the MESD Board. Your vote does make a difference!

John H. Kilian, DMD, Gresham,, is a candidate for Multnomah Education Service District, Position 2, At Large.