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SharePrint Regional Education Service Agencies (Educational Service Cooperatives)

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 was 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 served on the board of directors of each RESA. Each RESA was administered by an executive director who was hired by its board of directors. The executive director and chairperson of the board of each RESA periodically met with the state Board of Education.

A wide range of services and programs was provided through this regional arrangement. Schools shared staff who provided direct student services, such as physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy. RESAs sponsored spelling bees, science fairs, and other academic competitions. They organized partnerships with outside institutions, such as the ‘‘Gear Up’’ program for college readiness. Professional training was offered on a wide variety of topics for staff and substitute teachers within the region. RESAs eventually provided technical assistance to improve low-performing schools.

After years of criticism that education funding should be provided more directly to schools, a 2017 legislative audit concluded that too much of the RESAs’ funding was being spent on administrative functions and that RESAs were failing to provide services to some counties. Governor Jim Justice signed legislation eliminating the RESAs, effective June 30, 2018. Their functions were replaced by Educational Service Cooperatives (ESCs), which shifted control of local education agencies to county superintendents and boards of educations within eight districts.

These ESCs provide regional services in the following areas: adult education, alternative certification, school bus operator training, purchasing, employment, Medicaid reimbursement, professional development, public service training, school messaging, substitute teaching, 21st Century Learning Centers, and the Strategic Planning in Occupational Knowledge for Employment and Success (SPOKES) and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) programs.

This Article was written by Elizabeth Ann H. McClain

Last Revised on June 27, 2023

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Cite This Article

McClain, Elizabeth Ann H. "Regional Education Service Agencies (Educational Service Cooperatives)." e-WV: The West Virginia Encyclopedia. 27 June 2023. Web. 02 March 2024.

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