RYAN SCOTT OTTNEY
PDT Staff Writer
After 28 years at its location on Court Street in Portsmouth, the South Central Ohio Educational Services Center (SCOESC) will be leaving the city and moving its operation to the soon-to-be former Glenwood High School building in New Boston. On the heels of their move, The Counseling Center will be moving into the building on Court Street and consolidating many of its community services under one roof.
Originally the county school system, the SCOESC has been in its current building since 1994.
“Over the years, through state legislation, the county offices took on new meanings going more towards a regional business prospective of education. As a result of that, there used to be 88 offices (in Ohio) and we are now down to 55 educational service centers,” said SCOESC Superintendent Lowell Howard, adding that five centers have been cut by the state, so next year there will only be 50.
With 178 employees, he said the goal of the educational service center today is to produce education products that meet the needs of local school districts that are cost effective, rather than those districts trying to provide those services on their own.
The SCOESC now serves 17 districts in Scioto, Adams and Jackson counties — Bloom Vernon, Washington-Nile, Clay, Valley, Green, Minford, Northwest, Scioto County Career Technical Center, New Boston, Wheelersburg, Portsmouth, Sciotoville, Notre Dame, Wellston, Jackson, Manchester, and Oak Hill. The SCOESC is also the sponsoring financial agent for the newly developed online blended school known as Southern Ohio Academy.
“We actually have service contracts with 35 different school districts throughout a five county area. We serve districts that are not even within our educational service center,” Howard said.
Earlier this year the SCOESC began exploring options for moving its operation, and among the locations explored was Glenwood High School in New Boston. The New Boston School Board last month voted to lease the high school building to the SCOESC for $1, and the building will be available after students in New Boston transition into a new Pre-K through 12 building on Lakeview Avenue.
“As we become a business, the cost-effectiveness becomes a great deal. We do not need this large a facility at this point, plus we’re looking at cutting costs on housing and services,” Howard said. “New Boston actually is not much smaller, but we think it will be more cost effective for our operation.”
He said there will be need to make some very minor changes to the former New Boston school building, but mostly it is in very good shape for its advanced age (built in 1913) with new floor tiles, new doors, handicapped-accessible, and equipped for technology.
The SCOESC will leave behind a centrally-located facility in the downtown area of Portsmouth, ideal for The Counseling Center to consolidate some of its services.
“What we’re looking at is a consolidation of our out-patient services. We currently are providing out-patient services where our clients, our patients, are coming from a variety of locations around a multi-county area. Then they go to a variety of locations here in Portsmouth. This will give us an opportunity to centralize our clinical staff. All of those clients will come to one location, and we’ll be able to put our administration of out-patient services right here in the same building,” said Ed Hughes, of The Counseling Center.
Currently its primary out-patient facility is located on 11th Street, and the administrative office is located on Findlay. Hughes said The Counseling Center will move its administrative office to the building on Court Street, and the facility on 11th Street will transition to a full-time Compass Community Health Clinic.
“We have gone from one provider to five providers just within the last few months, so they will be needing more space. So that particular location, which has been sort of the hub for our out-patient services will become Compass Community Health Center and our health care services will have the opportunity to expand and have the room that they need,” Hughes said.
He said the new location will improve access by offering valuable community services under one roof.
“We see it as a winner for us on a lot of different levels. This building (on Court Street) has a great history. It’s known within the community, and we will be able to quickly be identified by our client population and other professionals that come and work with our clients,” Hughes said.
The Counseling Center is already leasing the property at Court Street and sub-leasing it to the SCOESC until they are able to move into the former New Boston school building on Glenwood Avenue. New Boston Superintendent Mike Staggs previously said he would like for students to begin class in the new building on Oct. 1, but with ongoing construction on the new school it remains to be seen whether or not that will happen.
Ryan Scott Ottney can be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 235, or firstname.lastname@example.org.