Heartfelt Gratitude and Farewell to OAESD Executive Director, Gary Peterson

Gary Peterson
Gary Peterson, OAESD Executive Director
It is with heartfelt gratitude and a measure of sadness that OAESD says farewell to our Executive Director, Gary Peterson. Gary has been a great leader for the organization, an excellent mentor and a compassionate friend. Under Gary’s leadership, OAESD became a thriving, proactive, and collaborative organization that is flexible and responsive to the needs of the State and all of our ESD regions. Gary expertly guided the association through excellent communication and skilled facilitation in countless achievements including developing the Program Cabinet and becoming Oregon’s Director of the Region 16 Comprehensive Center in partnership with Washington and Alaska.

Gary has also been an amazing mentor and friend to his education colleagues and ESD leaders. He was always there to listen, support and help develop achievable solutions at the local and state level. While we know he will maintain his deep connections, the association will feel the void as he takes much deserved time for himself and his family.

After 47 years in education, 14 as a teacher, 8 as a principal, 17 as a Superintendent and 8 years as a leader at OAESD, Gary deserves high praise for his dedication and commitment to the field. Gary will spend his days with family and friends doing the things he loves, cheering on the Oregon State Beavers and, without a doubt, we will see him find some time to contribute in important ways to the education community in the future. Congratulations dear friend!
- Tenneal Wetherell

Guiding Words of OAESD Executive Director Gary Peterson

I have worked with ESDs throughout my career in education in Oregon. As a teacher I ordered
films from Clackamas ESD and learned how to use a computer program known as VisiCalc. With Lane ESD I worked on prevention and student behavioral support programs. I was on the interview team to select a Yamhill ESD superintendent. I served on the High Desert ESD budget committee for five years. I was the superintendent of Columbia Gorge ESD for seven years. I was an officer for OAESD for four years before assuming the position of executive director five years ago.

Oregon’s system of ESDs is unique for many reasons. ESDs are established in statute with
authority to levy taxes. They are part of the state school fund. At the same time, ESDs can
reach every school district in the state with those districts ultimately responsible to each other for regional services. The local service plan approval process whereby two-thirds of the
districts in a region representing at least 51 percent of the students must approve the plan is
both equitable and democratic. Further, ESD board members are elected or selected by the school districts in the region.

Oregon’s ESDs are uniquely positioned to ensure the equity of, and access to, educational
opportunity for all of Oregon’s Children. Indeed, the purpose of OAESD as stated in the
Association’s Bylaws is to assist school districts and ODE in achieving Oregon’s educational goals by providing equitable, high quality, cost-effective and local responsive educational services at a regional level. Through collaboration and coordination, and the mutual respect and support of each other, Oregon’s ESDs are well suited to achieve this vision. The strength and future of Oregon’s ESD system, and OAESD, depends upon all nineteen ESDs working together in such a manner.

OAESD Equity and Racial Justice Steering Committee

In April, the Governance Council of the Oregon Association of Education Service Districts (OAESD) adopted a position statement on Equity and Racial Justice. The statement was developed over a period of months last year by a task force which consisted of a representative from each member ESD. Nancy Golden, Oregon’s former Chief Education Officer, provided facilitation for the process. The statement is as follows:

OAESD Statement on Equity and Racial Justice

The Oregon Association of Education Service Districts, in support of its 19 member ESDs, their component school districts and the Oregon Department of Education, and in response to systemic inequities and racism, will provide leadership in areas of equity and racial justice. We will raise-up and weave the voices of students and families of communities of color and other historically and currently underserved communities into all areas of our work. We will join with partners to provide the full history of Oregon for all people as a resource. We will bring together diverse groups of people for discussions of equity, race, and justice across the state. This is our call to action to ensure that all students will be accepted as their authentic selves, will be heard, and valued, will belong and feel included, and will achieve high academic standards.

The OAESD Officer Council has appointed a Steering Committee to guide activities associated with the implementation of this statement for the Association. The Steering Committee is meeting monthly to review various documents and resources, and plan activities which will support our Association and our members in working with school districts on this important topic.

OAESD Summit Update

The Officer Council approved the cancellation of 2021 Summit events on November 11th to coincide with the cancellation of OSBA’s Annual Convention. With the safety of our members at the forefront, we have redesigned the traditional Summit plan to include a series of virtual sessions to occur this Winter. More information for the virtual sessions will follow.

Save the Date!
OAESD Spring Conference

OAESD’s Annual Spring Conference is scheduled for March 9-11, 2022 at the beautiful Sunriver Resort. Please make note of the adjustment to the traditional schedule as we will be convening in March rather than May in 2022. We all look forward to being together in person for this special event.

Oregon Association of Education Service Districts is a partnership between: Clackamas, Columbia Gorge, Douglas, Grant, Harney, High Desert, InterMountain, Jefferson,Lake, Lane, Linn Benton Lincoln, Malheur, Multnomah, North Central, ‚ÄčNorthwest Regional, South Coast, Southern Oregon, Wallowa, and Willamette Education Service Districts.