By Brad McElhinny, WV MetroNews
CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Two controversial parts of a big education bill were removed as the House Education Committee took up the legislation for the first time today.
A non-severability clause was no longer in the bill
Nor was a ‘paycheck protection’ provision that would require education union members to sign off on their dues annually.
The committee substitute bill that was explained by staff counsel during an hour and a half Wednesday morning also made several other significant changes from the way the bill was passed out of the state Senate.
Charter schools were capped at six.
The bill no longer allows for virtual charter schools.
Education savings accounts, which are vouchers for students moving from public school to a private education, would be limited to special needs students.
A provision in the Senate bill that would have withheld wages during a work stoppage was changed to allow for those wages to be repaid once school days are made up.
House Education Committee Chairman Danny Hamrick told committee members this is just a starting point, and he believes the bill will change as it goes through the legislative process.
The committee recessed after a morning meeting and intends to resume its work this afternoon.
Audio streaming of committee meetings is available here.
Here is the roster of the Education Committee.
The bill includes long-promised pay raises for educators. The bill also opens the way for charter schools and educational savings accounts that would set aside public dollars for private schooling for a certain number of participants.
The bill would also let teachers bank personal days for retirement credit. It would give counties greater latitude in paying some teachers more for in-demand expertise. It would open enrollment for students to cross county lines.
It would allow counties to raise levy rates up to a set maximum, rather than relying on state formula.
The bill is also referenced to the House Finance Committee.
It passed out of the Senate on an 18-16 vote.