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Friday, February 24, 2017

House Bill 2689 was introduced on Friday, and is that chamber’s version of an education savings account bill. As we've said before, WVEA is opposed to education savings accounts. They would only do more damage to public education in the midst of a statewide budget crisis.

Language in the bill, which is similar to S.B. 273 in the Senate, says the amount of an education savings account would be equal to the percentage given to the Mountaineer Challenge Academy. For the current year, the amount paid by counties for students who graduated from the Challenge Academy was more than $3,003 per student. That could be a significant blow to county school systems.

Also, the bill allows for parents who educate their child themselves (homeschooling, for example) but do not apply for an education savings account to be eligible for a $2,500 tax credit per child.

WVEA will keep you posted on both S.B. 273 and H.B. 2689.

Also Friday, S.B. 231 advanced to the passage stage in the Senate. It may be up for a vote on Monday. It would allow county boards of education to determine whether it is worth their effort to seek Medicaid reimbursements for eligible student services.

Language states that while the state board may delegate provider status and subsequent reimbursement to RESAs and/or county boards, the county board may determine whether there is "a net benefit after consideration of costs and time involved with seeking Medicaid reimbursements" for eligible services and also determination that the billing process doesn't detract from a county's educational program.

Considering the costs and time involved, some county school officials do not see a benefit in seeking the Medicaid reimbursements.

A similar bill, H.B. 2420, will be on first reading in the House on Monday.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Governor Jim Justice's 60-page education bill was introduced in the Senate on Thursday.

Some details of Senate Bill 420:

| An $808 raise for classroom teachers

| Language that says educators will receive uninterrupted time for planning periods each week, and that administrators may not require a teacher to use planning period time "to complete duties beyond instructional planning."

| The state Board of Education may define the equivalent of the minimal amount of instructional time per year that means 180 instructional days.

| The A-F school grading system will end by amending school accreditation, accountability and school performance to include multiple measures. (The state board will be responsible for defining the multiple measures.) 

| All funding for RESAs is eliminated. Counties will be urged to collaborate on issues like purchasing and professional development that the RESAs currently take on.

| The Office of Education Performance Audits would be abolished.

Be sure to read this week's Legislative Update for more details about the bill. We will keep you updated on its progress and whether a companion bill is introduced in the House.

Also Thursday, the Senate Education Committee advanced a bill (S.B. 18) that would eliminate the Smarter Balanced or the PARCC assessments and would instead require new summative assessments for college-readiness (in the 11th grade) and careeer-readiness. The state Board of Education has recently begun to head in this new direction on assessments as well.