Need for ACES Apparent in 1960s

The need for a cost-effective regional educational service agency was perceived by many educators in the New Haven area in the late 1960s. In an effort led by Charles Rich, then Superintendent of Schools in North Haven, Yale-based Samuel Brownell, former U.S. Commissioner of Education, and involving many other individuals, the Area Cooperative Educational Services (ACES) became an entity in 1969. ACES was initially funded with declining grants under Title III of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, federal monies intended to foster innovative educational services and programming. The North Haven school district was the administering agent during those early years.

Earned Designation as a Regional Education Center in 1972

girl writing on chalkboardAfter a planning period, followed by a year of aggressive and imaginative educational programming for its initial 18 member towns, ACES and other similar agencies petitioned Connecticut's General Assembly for legislation to permit it to function as an educational service center. Public Law 10-66 became effective on July 1, 1972, signifying recognition within the General Assembly of the viability of the educational service center concept. Legislation passed in 1978 further supported Connecticut's educational service agencies.

By joining ACES, local towns are represented on the Governing Board and are eligible for the full range of services and programs offered by the agency. ACES Governing Board members, who come from school districts in Connecticut’s south central region, are members of local boards of education, duly responsible to their constituents and working on behalf of students in their charge. In addition to school board members appointed by local districts, the ACES Governing Board has representation from parochial and independent schools, and from colleges and universities, which are involved in and concerned about ACES programming. Ad hoc advisory committees serve as needed.

Now a Staff of Over 950 and $87M Budget

In its 1969-1970 planning year, ACES had a staff of two and a total budget of $70,000. As of the 2015 - 2016 Fiscal Year, its broad and extensive programs involve more than 950 skilled staff members in 19 facilities working with a budget of $87,000,000. ACES now generates income in two principal ways: from the fees participating members and clients pay for its services; and from state, federal and foundation grants.