2017-11-29 / Front Page

County school board joins group to replace RESA 8

by Kate Evans

The Morgan County School Board unanimously approved joining the newly-formed Eastern Panhandle Instructional Cooperative (EPIC) that will replace RESA 8 after the agency dissolves on June 30, 2018.

The action took place at their November 21 meeting. All RESAs (Regional Education Services Agencies) across West Virginia will dissolve in June due to House Bill 2711.

RESAs offer 152 programs and services statewide, of which Morgan County uses 28 programs, School Superintendent Erich May said. RESA 8 programs and services the county has been using include the adolescent health initiative, adult education, special education, principal leadership, Positive Behavior Interventions and Support (PBIS), the Adult Career Pathways program, public service training, technology repair services and instructional practice inventory support. Almost every one of these programs will continue under EPIC.

Ownership of all RESA 8 assets will transfer to EPIC on July 1, 2018 when the education services cooperative begins its operations.

A governing council will oversee EPIC and will appoint a cooperative administrator. Counties will pay a membership fee based on their prior year student enrollment count.

Some EPIC programs and services will be fully grant-funded while others will be applicant or RESA 8 funded-these will be provided at no cost to counties. Costs of Head Start pre-K will be partially grant-funded with a shared cost to participating counties. Several other programs will be county-funded and billed for actual expenses, with partial costs being reimbursable.

May said that the formation of the EPIC cooperative is good news as it will continue mostly all of the 13 programs and services that he and central office directors felt were essential to Morgan County Schools operations. The decreased cost per student for EPIC will bring considerable savings, he noted.

Those essential programs and services include the alternative certification program, audiology services, bus driver training, cooperative purchasing, early childhood Birth to Three and Head Start programs, Medicaid reimbursement billing, student academic competitions, student transportation (special needs), substitute teacher training, technical assistance and WVEIS (The West Virginia Education Information System).

The Searchsoft Teacher Recruitment program is not on EPIC’s list but job postings can be done on the Morgan County School website, May said. WVEIS is going to be handled by the state.

May was pleased to see the commitment of the larger counties like Berkeley and Jefferson counties to the cooperative. The bigger counties need an education services cooperative much less than the western RESA 8 counties because they have a lot of these services internally, he said.

The RESA 8 counties were the first RESA in the state to form an education services cooperative, May noted. Counties served by RESA 8 include Berkeley, Grant, Hampshire, Hardy, Jefferson, Mineral, Morgan and Pendleton.

May said the current RESA 8 governing council includes county superintendents, county school board presidents and several at-large community members that include Warm Springs Middle School Principal Gene Brock. The governing council for the EPIC educational services cooperative could be further expanded.

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