Si Bautista

Si Bautista speaks at the North Central Educational Service District open house.

What a tremendous asset our North Central Educational Service District has created at its newly remodeled headquarters in Olds Station. This will benefit the 29 individual school districts in the region both in terms of better service and in reduced costs for years to come.

This is an incredible win for education in the region.

The $1.2 million remodel of what was originally the headquarters as well as living space for Pacific Aerospace and Electronics has transformed that 28,000 square foot building into a highly flexible home for the ESD staff.

The entire staff at the ESD can now be housed in that facility. Previously, the special education team and others had been located in a separate building in Olds Station. ESD Superintendent Michelle Price said it has bothered her greatly to have special education folks off location. When she was a special education teacher early in her career, she remembers being housed in a portable cut off from the rest of the staff and students.

At the ESD’s open house this week, the district had a special surprise in store for long-time ESD board chair Si Bautista. The former McDonald’s franchise owner was honored for his contributions with the unveiling of the Si Bautista Learning Center on the fourth floor of the building.

Long before collaboration became a strong valley-wide initiative through the Our Valley Our Future effort, Si was championing the notion of working together among the superintendents and school directors around the region.

Bautista praised his fellow ESD board members and three outstanding superintendents he worked with — Dr. Gene Sharratt, Dr. Rich McBride and current superintendent Price — as leaders who actively sought to take the long-term perspective. Price, as he put it, “is the new star and vision maker — you can expect great things from her.”

Si is one of truly great community leaders in our valley and his quiet contributions continue to foster a sense of collaboration and high ideals. But he’s part of a family of community contributors. Si’s wife Corrina and daughter Cori have been outstanding leaders in their own right.

The Educational Service District, which contracts with districts to support their needs for delivering high-quality education and other services, is an essential element of the success of our K-12 system.

The fact that they will be able to pay off the debt on the remodel in four to five years by drastically reducing space rented in other facilities is a tribute to the financial prudence of the organization. To save money, technology guru Pete Phillips managed the intricacies of the building project besides seeing to the tech needs of the organization. From all appearances, he did a heck of a job.

Larry MacGuffie, the current ESD board chair, said the remodeled space is going to help the district take delivering its mission to a higher level. The new facility more than doubles the amount of training space compared to the previous configuration. Every conference and training room is well equipped with technology to meet the needs of staff and school districts.

Walking through the building, I was highly impressed by what they have accomplished. The North Central ESD has made a smart investment in the future of education. They deserve a huge commendation for their long-term vision and financial prudence.

Rufus Woods is the publisher emeritus of The Wenatchee World. He may be reached at rwoods@wenatcheeworld.com or 509-665-1162.