The Regional Education Service Agencies – RESA – is a constantly evolving vision of 21st century learning, driven by goals to continue a positive, on-going transformation of education in West Virginia’s county schools, with outcomes that influence the success of students, teachers, and school administrators. With a track record of achievement, the agencies are providing high quality, cost effective services and life-long education programs to school systems and communities, while saving taxpayer’s money.
RESA’s accomplishments have surpassed all expectations as evidenced by ongoing cooperation and positive responses from county school systems and continual support by the West Virginia Legislature. The Statute has been amended nine times since the agencies’ inception in 1972. Each time the Legislature has mandated RESA to do more and the agencies have risen to the challenges.
Through the work of dedicated, goal-oriented staff members, RESAs maximize both financial and human resources by establishing cooperation among county school systems and other education-related agencies. As a result, the agencies’ broad-based endeavors have saved county school systems millions of dollars.
RESA’s programs represent four broad categories: education, health and safety, financial benefits, and technology.
A direct benefit to education in the county schools, RESAs help arrange professional development opportunities for teachers, teacher substitutes, administrators, and service personnel. Other initiatives benefiting educators and, in turn, students, include academic fairs in science, math and social studies; teacher and principal and mentoring programs. Special education programs help with problem solving and strategic planning with parents, teachers and the community for the benefit of exceptional children. RESAs facilitate math, science, reading and language arts consortiums; graduate classes in chemistry, science, math and instruction; and alternative certification projects in English, physics, chemistry and math.
RESAs support and help arrange educational opportunities in the communities by contributing their expertise toward improvements to community education programs such as Adult Basic Education, GED preparation and testing, job training, and specialized instructional services for all age levels.
HEALTH & SAFETY
RESAs also collaborate with county school officials in support of Drug-Free and Healthy School programs, and provide technical assistance in the area of tobacco control and cessation. To further meet the needs for health care intervention, RESAs provide prescriptive services for exceptional children, as well as audiology evaluations and testing. Some RESAs serve as umbrellas for Head Start and a program called West Virginia Birth to Three, which provides early intervention services to families with developmentally delayed children.
Community health and safety is another priority, which provides low-cost training programs for thousands of first responders, such as firefighters and emergency medical professionals and volunteers.
Many school and community training programs are made possible because RESAs can find the means to provide the services at reduced costs. This is accomplished in part by engaging the professional expertise of agency staff members and county school personnel, thus avoiding higher costs that would be incurred by hiring outside professionals.
Cost cutting measures are achieved through cooperative purchasing and the Association of Educational Agencies (AEPA).
Wide ranging financial benefits are derived by the agencies’ management of Medicaid billing for the medical services provided by county boards of education. In addition, the agencies manage the West Virginia Education Information Systems (WVEIS), which provides data maintenance, the creation of bar codes for scheduling, report cards, GradeQuick, attendance, finance, payroll and food service to schools and school systems.
A review of RESA’s budget expenditures clearly indicates that, categorically, RESAs are prudently utilizing funding for programs mandated by the West Virginia Legislature and the initiatives of the West Virginia State Board of Education.
RESA directly impacts 21st century learning and effective instruction by updating computers, installing software and hardware, and offering consultation services and wireless networking support. This scope of services has improved learning opportunities in grades K-12 and beyond, and has created an environment that fosters and encourages innovation, individuality and creativity.
Because computerization in its many forms is integral to current teaching and learning methods, RESA oversees the repair and maintenance of computer equipment, networks, and audio visual equipment.
West Virginia’s Legislature provided the mechanism for the encouragement of cooperative education services when it established RESAs. The results of partnerships with county school boards, institutions of higher education, various state agencies, emergency services organizations, as well as business and industry, show that the total community has come to benefit from the agencies’ presence in their respective counties.
The movement to downsize government, the acceleration of financial pressures on the public sector and on public education, as well as the need for greater across-the-board accountability, all suggests that educational service agencies like RESAs are serving educational needs that otherwise would go unmet.