Prior to the 1970s, West Virginia school systems formed local consortiums in order to pool resources and effort. In 1972, West Virginia passed legislation authorizing the state Department of Education to create Regional Education Service Agencies (RESAs). County boards of education were grouped into eight regional units, or RESAs, to provide certain services on a regional basis.
Each RESA is governed by a board of directors. Each county superintendent, one representative from each county’s board of education, and a member selected by the state Department of Education serve on the board of directors of each RESA. Related agencies or institutions may also have representatives if the RESA chooses to include them. Each RESA is administered by an executive director who is hired by its board of directors. The executive director and chairperson of the board of each RESA periodically meet with the state Board of Education.
A wide range of services and programs is provided through this regional arrangement. Schools share staff who provide direct student services, such as physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy. RESAs sponsor spelling bees, science fairs, and other academic competitions. They organize partnerships with outside institutions, such as the ‘‘Gear Up’’ program for college readiness. Professional training is offered on a wide variety of topics for staff and substitute teachers within the region. Recently, RESAs have begun to provide technical assistance to improve low-performing schools. Through RESAs, member schools attain greater equality of educational opportunities, delivery of services at a lower per-student cost, more effective use of funds, and more efficient administration.
Written by Elizabeth Ann H. McClain