CINDERELLA – At a special meeting of the Mingo County Board of Education held Monday morning, Superintendent Don Spence further discussed the financial burden that will be placed on the county school system if Regional Education Service Agencies (RESAs) are eliminated. According to Spence, if RESAs are eliminated, the county would shoulder $130,000 for the services that RESA currently provides.
RESAs were founded for the purpose of providing coordinated and shared services, such as technical and professional development among county school boards. These shared services allow county school systems to have access to worthwhile services without placing an excess financial burden on the county.
The future of the eight district RESAs serving West Virginia Schools are being discussed in the current legislative session after a post audit report compiled by the West Virginia Auditor’s Office recommended that RESAs be eliminated and that going forward, the services they provide to county schools fall under the Department of Education’s regional staff.
According to the state legislative office’s executive summary, the purpose of the audit was to determine the continued need for RESA’s. Currently, 158 individuals serve as RESA employees throughout the state’s eight RESA divisions. According to the summary, RESAs are failing to fulfill important duties.
The future of district RESAs were first discussed by the Mingo County Board of Education (BOE) at a special meeting held Friday, February 3. At Monday’s special meeting of the BOE, Spence further discussed the subject. “A couple of meetings ago, we looked at a letter that I drafted in support of RESAs. In the ongoing fight to try to keep RESAs in the legislature, we looked at this and thought it would be a good idea if we had one on behalf of the whole board of education. When we drafted one, we looked at some figures; we looked at exactly what we are paying versus what would be saving and used those in the draft of our letter.”
Spence then read the draft of the new letter which will be sent to Governor Jim Justice. “For many years, RESA II has provided support for six southwestern counties including Mingo. From professional development to computer repairs to sharing services in the form of an audiologist, an attorney and various administrative support personal, RESA II has enabled us to better serve our students and be more efficient with our districts limited resources. During the current legislative session, we have heard many comments on the usefulness of our states eight RESAs as well as indications that some seek to eliminate them all together. This would be a blow to Mingo County, not just in terms of quality service that RESA II provides, but in terms of financial efficiency. Below is a salary of some services provided by RESA II and projected costs to replace them,” Spence read.
Spence then detailed the amounts listed in the letter. For computer repair, Spence stated that the county pays RESA $35,000. The projected cost for the county BOE without RESA for computer repair would be $60,000. For Medicaid billing, the county pays RESA $11,900. Without RESA the county would pay $32,500. The county BOE pays RESA $12,500 for audiology. The amount would remain the same for audiology without RESA, Spence explained. The county pays $26,500 for legal services. Without RESA the county would pay $110,000 for legal services. “All total, we pay RESA $85,900 for services that come back to us that are about $215,500. We are asking them to support. As you can see clearly, without RESA II shared services capabilities, Mingo County would be forced to shoulder an addition of almost $130,000 to match the services now provided to our school. We cannot do this. We ask you that you support our RESAs and the value they add to our county,” Spence read in conclusion.
Courtney Harrison is a news reporter for the Williamson Daily News. She can be contacted at [email protected] or at 304-235-4242 ext. 2279.