Education bill spurs concern over RESA and praise for local control

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LEWIS COUNTY, W.Va. (WDTV)- Governor Jim Justice's bill proposal to transform the state education system has some good points and bad ones, according to some of you in our local school systems. A big concern is getting rid of the Regional Education Service Agencies. They provide technology support and professional development to schools.

RESA is especially relied upon in Lewis County. School officials there say life without it would be "drastically different."

"We don't have the budget to pay for those services on our own," said Carrie Davis, Technology Integration Specialist at Lewis County High School.

The county technology coordinator also says it'd be impossible to support the technology they have. And when something like the internet goes out...

"It really limits our productivity," Davis continued. "So having that support available locally and having somebody who can come down by the end of the day and get us back online is a tremendous asset."

RESA also does teacher training and finds resources for schools.

"Our students with disabilities' graduation rate went from 55 percent the year before to 78 percent last year," said LCHS Principal Derek Lambert. "That's in large part due to the Graduation 20/20 that RESA helps us with."

In bigger counties like Harrison, the superintendent and some teachers aren't as worried about RESA.

"It would hurt a little bit, but I think we are resourceful so we would find another way to do what we're doing," said Gretchen Fragmin, a teacher at South Harrison High School.

The governor's plan is to eliminate the need for RESA by changing things up in the state department so they cover it. But the fear is that won't be as efficient and goes against one of the governor's main goals: To give more power to local school systems. That's a selling point for many people.

"That lets each county be able to customize what they do and I think that's really important," Fragmin said.

As long as there's still...

"Accountability," said John Turnbull, an SHHS teacher. "We have a certain amount of freedom as teachers to determine what we teach, it's just when you bring in that standardized testing element that tends to impact the decisions we make."

Some other points in the governor's proposal many people in the school system support are raising teacher pay, getting more flexibility with the school calendar, and ending the A-F grading of public schools.