Act 349 of 1985 authorized the establishment of fifteen education service cooperatives. The Wilbur D. Mills Education Service Cooperative (WDMESC) was planned and established according to the organizational requirements of Act 349 and thus began operation July 1, 1985. The WDMESC relocated its central offices at 210 North Main Street in Beebe but retained Workforce Education (Department of Career Education) office space on the ASU-Beebe campus. The Early Childhood Special Education employees and program were moved to newly remodeled space at 133 North Main Street in June of 1994. Literacy and Math Specialists were added in the summer of 1999 and were housed at 114 Center Street in Beebe. In the spring of 2005, WDMESC acquired property at 114 North Main Street. Presently, WDMESC is housed in four buildings on Main Street and Illinois Street in downtown Beebe. The Wilbur D. Mills Education Service Cooperative Administrative offices are located at 114 N. Main Street. Career Education is located at 133 N. Main Street. Early Childhood is located at 210 N. Main and the Specialists are in the Professional Development Center at 110 E. Illinois.
The WDMESC serves Seventeen (17) public school districts in White, Woodruff, Lonoke, Prairie, and Pulaski counties in east central Arkansas. Some 27,500 students are served by the WDMESC.
The cooperative is governed by a Board of Directors which is composed of superintendents from each of the 17 member school districts. The Board has a Chairman, a Vice Chairman, and Secretary as its officers. Officers for 2017-18 are Melissa Gipson, President; Tony Thurman, Vice-President; Cathy Tanner, Secretary . The cooperative's bookkeeper was elected by the Board to serve as Treasurer and the Director as Ex-officio Financial Secretary. Regular meetings of the Board are held as required by Act 349 of 1985. An annual operation budget is adopted in the August meeting and financial reports are submitted on a monthly basis.
A Teacher Center Committee, composed of one representative from each member district, advises the Teacher Center Coordinator, the cooperative's Director, and the Board of Directors on the staffing and operation of the Teacher Center. Over one-half (11) of the members on this committee are classroom teachers. The remainder of the Teacher Center Committee are administrators and support staff. The committee meets three times each year, and is coordinated by the Assistant Director/Teacher Center Coordinator.
Currently, the cooperative has 63 approved staff positions. The positions are as follows: Director, Assistant Director/Teacher Center Coordinator, Literacy Specialists (3), Math Specialist, Science Specialist, Gifted and Talented Education Coordinator, Special Education LEA Supervisors (3), Early Childhood Coordinator, Early Childhood Special Education Department(25), Behavior Consultants (2), Career and Technical Education Coordinator, Bookkeeper, Assistant Bookkeeper, HIPPY Administrative Coordinator, HIPPY Field Coordinators (4), Computer Technologists (6), Media Van Delivery Personnel, Office Professionals/Support Staff (10).
Personnel policies, approved by the Board of Directors, are applicable to all current positions.
All cooperative offices are located in Beebe, Arkansas. The administrative offices located at 114 North Main Street of the cooperative also house APSCN Coordinator, Behavior Specialist, Community Health Nurse, ESVI, HIPPY Program Coordinator Office, LEA Office and Computer Technologist Coordinator. The computer training lab is also at that location. The WDMESC Early Childhood Special Education Office and Medicaid Secretary are located at 210 North Main. Arkansas Career Education is at 133 North Main. The CTE building also contains a large training room. The Math, Literacy, Science Specialists, and Gifted/Talented Coordinator are located at 110 East Illinois Street in the Professional Development Center. This building also has three large training rooms.
The Cooperative is funded by a variety of sources including, but not limited to: State Base Funding, State Competitive Grants, Federate Grant Funds, and local School District Consortia contributions.
Special grants have been applied for, approved, and received which have partially or totally funded the following WDMESC positions and program needs: Gifted and Talented, Literacy, Science and Math Specialists, Career Education, Early Childhood Special Education(Ages 3-5), HIPPY, Tobacco Prevention, Distance Learning and Technology. Additionally, staff development training grants have been awarded for areas such as: Pathwise Training Leadership, Math/Science (MSP)Enhancing Education Through Technology (EETT), Leadership, Mentor Training, and College and Career Readiness Preparatory.
During 2014-2015 year, 7,753 participants attended professional development sponsored by Wilbur Mills Education Service Cooperative. Three hundred eighty-four different sessions were offered. The topics of these activities were based primarily on results of needs assessment surveys conducted in each school building in our service area during 2014-15.
Wilbur D. Mills Education Service Cooperative staff will continue to survey the administrators, teachers, and school personnel in our seventeen member districts to determine the services that are needed. Data trends will be monitored to help the cooperative staff in planning for professional development in the future.
With the adoption of Arkansas Curriculum Frameworks, WDMESC will continue to offer content and pedagogy development on an ongoing basis. The next generation assessments for ACF developed by ACT places a huge demand for technology integration and preparedness by our districts. WDMESC will continue to support the work of the districts as they prepare for the assessments. The Arkansas State Board of Education has also adopted the Teacher Excellence and Support System (TESS) as a model for improving teaching and learning in our schools. WDMESC will continue to support teachers and leaders as they endeavor to learn the TESS and LEADS systems and implement them with fidelity.
- Appropriate in-service training/professional development activities should continue to be provided at a level such that identified needs are met for all member districts.
- All novice teachers will receive mentoring from the Wilbur Mills Education Service Cooperative.
- Technical assistance to school districts in implementation of statewide computer network and its application and use in the classroom and use of ACT/ASPIRE will be continued.
- Appropriate curriculum development for the ACF should continue to be provided to meet the identified needs of member districts.
- Efforts must be continued to make services accessible to all educators by conducting workshops and other activities at sites throughout the geographical area served by WDMESC and with a variety of time schedules.
- Efforts must be continued to enrich and develop the WDMESC Teacher Center and to purchase equipment and materials for the Teacher Center which is of high interest to teachers of member districts.
- Efforts must be continued to seek outside funding sources so that local funding of the cooperative's programs and activities will be kept to a minimum.
- Appropriate media material should continue to be provided and the WDMESC media center should expand as needed to house instructional and media material to meet the needs of the member school districts.
- Cooperative purchase efforts for school supplies should be continued.