Tomblin vetoes pair of bills altering school calendar, standards
By Matt Maccaro, WV MetroNews
Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin vetoed a pair of bills Friday that would have altered the school calendar and education standards in West Virginia.
One bill (HB-4171) would have allowed schools systems to use banked time to count toward the 180 day requirement and required school to end by June 10, and start no sooner than Aug. 10.
The other bill (HB-4014) would have done away with Smarter Balanced Assessment testing and required another review of Common Core standards, now called College and Career Readiness Standards, by representatives from Marshall and WVU.
West Virginia Education Association President Dale Lee was disappointed with the veto. He wanted to see the institution of banked time.
“It allowed the flexibility to use accrued time for make up days,” he said. “It was just another tool in the tool box to give teachers and school systems the opportunity to make up inclement weather days.”
Tomblin said in his veto message of the banked time bill that school systems should be able to plan their calendars under the current format.
“With proper planning, a county school system should be able to achieve 180 separate days of instruction without encroaching on summer vacation to a great degree,” Tomblin wrote.
Tomblin Communications Director Chris Stadelman said Tomblin wanted to prioritize education first.
“June 10 is much earlier than many counties are ending their calendars this year,” he said. “The governor firmly believes that an education is the most important thing, and should be prioritized before whether folks get to go to Disney World.”
Lee said he believed in the “quality of instruction not the quantity of days,” and that if school goes too late, students simply don’t show up.
“We didn’t talk about the absenteeism at the end of last year when we were making up those days well into June,” Lee said. “As many as 50 percent of the kids were absent. If it’s not a priority, then 180 days is meaningless. What’s more important is the actual time on task in the classroom.”
Stadelman said that Tomblin believed that both amount of days and effective instruction are vital.
“Gov. Tomblin believes that education should be both quality and quantity,” said Stadelman responding to Lee’s comments. “It’s not to prioritize summer vacation over a good education. The governor believes that students should be in school, and if that means students have to go until the middle of June, then that may be the case in some counties.”
The state Board of Education was pleased that Tomblin vetoed HB-4014.
“As President of the West Virginia Board of Education, I commend Governor Tomblin for his veto of HB 4014,” said President Mike Green in a statement. “It is clear Gov. Tomblin understood that, while perhaps unintended, this bill would have seriously impaired the Board’s ability to implement the accountability system requested by the governor.”
Stadelman said Tomblin’s veto of the bill was to ensure continuity with testing and standards for now.
“One of the main things the governor wanted to ensure was that the standards were preserved,” he said. “That we need to have high quality standards, but in addition to that, it’s also important to be able to start measuring year over year. If you continually change the assessments, that becomes very difficult.”
West Virginia students are taking the Smarter Balanced this spring for the second time.