ESD hires Carnes as interim chief

Former HR superintendent leads ESD through change

A former Hood River County School District superintendent who later served as assistant commissioner of education for the State of Kentucky will lead Education Service District 9 on a one-year interim contract.

Dr. James Carnes begins his duties here next week.

The regional education district, which is based in The Dalles but also serves Hood River County, provides specialized services on a cooperative basis for participating school districts.

Most recently, Carnes was interim superintendent for Beaverton School District, and previously served 10 years as an executive with the Oregon School Boards Association — in which capacity he helped schools and community colleges with top leadership searches.

“He brings tremendous experience,” said Dr. Pat Evenson-Brady, the ESD’s departing superintendent.

Dr. Evenson-Brady, who played a key role in the process to establish a unified school district for Chenowith and The Dalles following voters’ approval of that measure, will take up her new duties as Hood River County Schools’ superintendent on July 1.

Ironically, Dr. Carnes had hired Evenson-Brady as principal of Hood River’s Westside Elementary in 1988, when he was superintendent there.

Evenson-Brady notes the selection process for interim ESD director attracted a talented field, with 25 applicants for the one-year position.

As interim superintendent, Carnes may or may not be succeeded by a permanent replacement: the ESD board is actively considering consolidation with another, larger ESD in an effort to save money.

Most of those savings would result from cutting the superintendent’s post itself, Evenson-Brady reported, although there would be some savings in other areas such as legal and auditing fees.

ESD consolidation raises a variety of complex issues, she added, ranging from tax rates to local representation.

Four ESDs have offered consolidation presentations to the local board, and all four are still being considered: these are Clackamas, Multnomah, Umatilla/Morrow and Redmond/Deschutes (now known as the High Desert ESD).

Evenson-Brady has made no recommendation on any of the proposals, although she did prepare a detailed comparative analysis of the various agencies.

She projects potential savings from consolidation at about $200,000 to $300,000 from a $6.5 million budget — enough to eliminate further program reductions mandated from a separate issue, ESD equalization, through which the State of Oregon has required all ESDs in the state to adjust their budgets up or down until each one receives the same per-student funding.

Education Service District 9 had been above the state average in that category, forcing it to cut its budget over a period of five years.

There are still two years left in that reduction schedule, Evenson-Brady notes — although unrelated cuts from the state legislature have already had the effect of bringing the ESD to its targeted per-student funding level. It’s unclear at this time how this will affect the equalization reductions, she said.

The consolidation issue will be a major assignment for the new superintendent, Evenson-Brady added. The ESD’s board members at their June 18 meeting directed that her replacement prepare an action plan on consolidation this August, with an emphasis on obtaining additional information for the board to consider in reaching its decision.

Evenson-Brady will have served three years as ESD superintendent.

“I’m going to miss the good people here,” she said, referring both to her staff and ESD board members. “This has been a great place to work.”

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