One of the questions I get on a regular basis is, “What does an ISD do?”  In simple terms, an ISD, or Intermediate School District, is by definition a regional educational service and support center charged with helping its school districts maintain and supplement the services they require to operate.

ISD’s in Michigan have a rich history of supporting students.  Educational researcher and historian Donald Spencer noted that the origins for ISD’s can be traced back to 1867, when “public education was a new phenomenon,… citizens were suspicious of the fledgling government,… and county superintendents had to convince people that children should attend school and that quality teachers and good school buildings were important aspects of a civilized and democratic society.”  While public education is now considered a basic right, I have to chuckle at how 150 years later many are still suspicious of our government and educators are still advocating for the importance of our public schools, in spite of the negative reports that can at times drown out the great things our students are achieving.

Michigan currently has 56 ISD’s which are part of the three-tier system of education which includes: local districts, intermediate districts, and the State Department of Education.  This is engrained within our State Constitution, and throughout legislation, to ensure that equity of educational opportunities exists for learners regardless of their individualized needs or where they live in Michigan.  Efficiencies are gained through cooperative services and economies of scale, especially in the areas of business services, special education and career and technical education.  ISD’s are an integral part of the system than helps support and provide services to the over 1.5 million students from pre-kindergarten to age 26 within our state.

As we near the 55 year mark in our current model of serving kids, we look forward to continued partnerships with our local districts to support student achievement and building of capacity for each organization to reach its full potential.

Jason Mellema, Superintendent
Ionia County ISD

Look for more information about Ionia County ISD and ways ISDs support all students in future articles/posts.