This report was prepared in response to a House resolution stating that "equity in the delivery of basic education programs and services has become a serious public policy issue." Pennsylvania has 29 educational service agencies, known as intermediate units, which are regional offices that assist public school districts and nonpublic schools by providing a vast array of education programs and services. The resolution called for a study of how intermediate units currently assist schools and for recommendations of strategies and methods through which intermediate units can further advance the principle of equity in the provision of public education.
The report concluded that intermediate units perform many unique and essential services in a cost-efficient manner, and recommended that the role of intermediate units be enhanced. The report further highlighted measures to strengthen their administration, governance and accountability. Recommendations were based on an analysis of the legislative history of the intermediate units, recent court decisions concerning equity in education, documentation of intermediate unit operations, and comments provided by a working group of educators and parents assembled to assist in this study.
The 29 intermediate units provide curriculum development, instructional improvement, educational planning, instructional materials, continuing professional development, pupil personnel services, and general management services to school districts throughout the State. In recent years, questions have arisen regarding what the proper role of the intermediate units should be, and whether they were achieving their mission in the context of the movement to improve quality and equity in public education. According to the report, intermediate units have realized their mandate to provide responsive, innovative and cost-effective services to local school districts, while they have simultaneously experienced a rapid and dramatic decline in State support.