RESAs: What Are They And What Do They Do?
By Ron Spencer
Posted: February 28, 2006
In 1972 the West Virginia Legislature enacted legislation which caused the West Virginia Board of Education (WVBE) to establish multi-county Regional Education Service Agencies (RESAs) “to provide for high quality, cost effective education programs and services to students, schools and school systems.” (WV Code §18-2-26) Unlike many agencies created by statute, the RESAs have been able to evolve during their life-time and have continuously changed based upon the specific needs of the county school systems they serve. Some current responsibilities include providing technical assistance to low performing schools; providing staff development for teachers; facilitating cooperative purchasing; and maintain education related technology equipment and software.
So, how have they done?
Technical Assistance: • During the school year 2004-2005, RESAs conducted over 650 regional staff development sessions for over 17,500 participants. Instead of 55 counties having to do 55 separate training or workshop sessions, regional sessions are conducted. A maximum of eight sessions as opposed to fifty-five separate sessions – a considerable savings one would imagine. • NCLB requires schools not meeting certain guidelines and standards to offer tutoring. RESAs are able to offer quality tutoring services (at the local school rather than requiring students to go to another location) at a cost which is considerably less than other agencies.
Cost Savings: • RESAs facilitate the purchase of classroom materials, custodial supplies and other goods and services used by school systems to obtain the maximum lowest prices. These prices are usually lower than statewide bids for the same goods and services. Some RESAs facilitate the purchase of utilities and fuel for school buses, again leveraging the buying power of multiple counties as opposed to single county purchases. The annual savings school systems amount to millions of tax dollars. • Often counties have a limited number of students to serve in a particular special education category. These students deserve to be served properly. RESAs are able to employ regional special education teachers who serve students in multiple counties. If not for RESAs, counties would have to employ a full-time teacher even if they had only one student.
Technology Maintenance • During school year 2004-2005, RESAs successfully completed over 40,000 computer and technology related repairs and installations.
Administering grants • During the current school year the eight RESAs have been able to use their five million dollar budget to leverage over 39 million dollars in additional restricted grants. These grants provide funding for school system programs, adult education programs and other projects. • Few agencies multiply their basic operational funding (by 7 to 10 times annually) and leverage millions of additional funds.
Other Programs • Through their Public Service Training Programs RESAs provided training to over 38,000 West Virginia firefighters, emergency medical technicians (EMT), coal miners, board of education employees, and private sector employees. • Through their Adult Basic Education Programs RESAs served over 30,000 West Virginia adults in the areas of assessment, employment skills, literacy skills, job preparation and General Educational Development test preparation.
It should be noted that there is oversight of RESAs at three levels. First, they are created by legislation which means they come under the watchful eye of the legislature each year. Secondly, they are governed by the West Virginia Board of Education. Finally, each RESA has an advisory council. The council recommends continuation of, or changes in RESA services and programs to the WVBE based on identified regional needs.
While numerous other cost-saving examples exist, we are limited here by time and space. Suffice it to say, RESAs are “Open for Business” and are providing a “Maximum Return for the Investment!”