Debate Changes More of WV Education Bill

West Virginia

Lawmakers heard from the Cabell County School Superintendent and the Spring Hill Elementary Principal about that school possibly becoming one of the state’s first charter schools. Overall Republican committee members are reporting progress cutting items from the bill. But some education leaders still want to eliminate charter schools, while some delegates support them.

“Well I’ll say this, we don’t want charter schools period.  But two, certainly under this proposal, is far better than six,” said Fred Albert, President, WV American Federation of Teachers.

“The bill is down to two charter schools in two areas. And I think that ‘s what the committee process is all about. We’re asking questions to find out the benefits and the downfalls also, of the charter schools,” said Del. Patrick Martin, (R) Lewis.

Other lawmakers worried about Education Savings Accounts, and whether state funds could be used for alternative schooling.

“My biggest concerns would be the Education Savings Accounts and how we are going to appropriate those funds and audit who’s using those funds, for what, in the charter school systems,” said Del. Amanda Estep-Burton, (D) Kanawha.

Education Savings Accounts are dropped from the House bill, for now. The biggest fight of the day was an effort to move Monday’s scheduled public hearing on the Education Bill from 8am to 5:30 pm.

“If we change the time, we lose the advance notice,” said Del. Daryl Cowles, (R) Morgan.

“We are not really giving the public, and most importantly, our educators enough credit,” said Del. Tim Miley, (D) Harrison – Minority Leader.

In the end, they compromised. On Monday there will be two public hearings on the Education BIll at the Capitol. The first is at 8 a.m. and the second at 5:30 p.m. Both are in the House Chamber.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Late Friday night the bill was approved by the House Education Committee, after Education Savings Accounts were removed. The pilot program on charter schools caps them at two. The bill now moves to the House Finance Committee.

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