After 18 months of study, the State Office of Education has agreed to shift some of its data processing functions to the state's Division of Data Processing to see if they can be accomplished less expensively.

The board on Friday approved a recommendation for a one-year trial of the program, according to a memorandum of understanding drawn up by the state office and the division.The office will shift only the data processing services it has provided for the state's 40 school districts. The state office's own data processing needs will continue to be provided in the office. The shift will involve moving 11 of the 52 data processing personnel from the office to the State Capitol data processing center.

Board Member Neola Brown expressed some concern that salary issues could be a problem if the state workers earn more than those in the education office. She asked that the issue be studied and that equity for employees in both centers be assured.

The education office has been involved in data processing to some extent for 22 years, said George Brown, program director. The office spent about a half million dollars four years ago to install its own computer center. If the shift to the state center proves cost-effective, he said, the education office equipment will likely be sold.

The state center has more capacity for data processing expansion than the office, he said. Among other perceived advantages are long-term savings to the office, capacity to meet growth in the education system and potential for its data processing staff to enhance its professional goals.

Disadvantages cited included loss of some control, an additional layer between the districts and their service provider and possible loss of users. Some districts prefer to develop their own data processing systems, rather than use the state center.

The one-year trial period will begin July 1 after the transfer has been accomplished.