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Perry Bennett/WV Legislative Photography Members of the House of Delegates Education Committee met Wednesday to begin the process of reviewing, amending, cutting, slicing, dicing or otherwise make changes to Senate Bill 451, the omnibus education reform package that passed the Senate on Monday.
West Virginia LRIC

A public hearing in the WV House of Delegates to discuss Senate Bill 451 will take place on Monday February 11, 2019 at 8 a.m.

Key discussion points that have emerged from the House committee reviews of Senate Bill 451 are highlighted below in excerpts from this news story article: Adams, Steven Allen. “Updated: W.Va. House Speaker Hanshaw Requests Public Hearing on Education Reform Bill The Intelligencer / Wheeling News Register, February 7, 2019.

Late this morning, House Speaker Roger Hanshaw, R-Clay, requested a public hearing in the House on Senate Bill 451.

Hanshaw sent a letter with the request to House Education Committee Chairman Danny Hamrick, R-Harrison, and Education Vice Chairman Eric Householder, R-Berkeley. House Rule 84 allows any House member to request a public hearing on a bill placed on a committee agenda. The hearing has been set for 8 a.m. Monday, February 11, 2019.

“We said from the start of our deliberations that we would accept input from all sides in this process, and that includes hearing from our teachers, students, parents and administrators,”Hanshaw said in a press release. “A public hearing will allow our citizens, and all those affected by this bill, the opportunity to have their voices heard.”

Key changes being discussed to the Senate Omnibus Education Bill include:

  • Limiting the number of public charter schools in the bill to six statewide.
  • The House bill sets in place how charter schools would be authorized, and also gives the state Board of Education more authority over charter schools when it comes to student performance and accountability.
  • Colleges and universities, previously charter school authorizers in the Senate bill, would not be an authorizer but could apply to a county to start a charter school.
  • The House version puts limits on education savings accounts. Only special needs students would be eligible for the accounts, which puts a 75 percent equivalent of their state per-pupil funding on a debit card for parents to use for educational expenses. Only families with a combined household income of $150,000 or less would qualify for one of the first 2,500 accounts.
  • The House changes to Senate Bill 451include removing the nonseverability clause, which would have rendered the entire bill invalid if any part of it was successfully challenged in court.
  • Open enrollment in the House bill would change to allow counties to develop policies when allowing students who reside in another county to attend school in a different county and sets criteria for allowing transfers. It also makes clear that the rules set in place by the Secondary Schools Activities Commission still apply.
  • Provisions for school counselors would require them to spend 80 percent of their time in direct counseling with students, instead of 75 percent in the Senate bill.
  • The bill still docks teacher pay during a work stoppage, but it would require any school days missed for a work stoppage to be made up and teachers would be compensated for those days. It removed the paycheck protection provisions requiring unions to receive annual approval before taking dues from teacher and school service employee paychecks.
  • The House version would expand the $250 teacher tax credit to school service personnel, and the $500 retirement bonus for every 10 days of sick leave banked by teachers would be expanded to all full-time county school employees. It also changes how those days are distributed and used.
  • The bill makes changes to the Underwood-Smith Teacher Scholarship and Loan Assistance program, renaming it and creating new requirements. Students who receive the grant would be required to teach math, science, or special education in a part of the state where the need is great, such as more rural parts of the state.

“Just so everyone knows, this is a starting point,” Hamrick said. “It’s expected that in meeting with different stakeholders and members of the committee and members of the House that this document will probably change a good bit between now and the time it’s voted on.”