Sen. Kessler discusses Senate Finance vote to kill charter schools bill

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Kessler discusses Senate Finance vote to kill charter schools bill
By Jeff Jenkins, WV MetroNews

State Senate Minority Leader Jeff Kessler used a procedural move Monday to kill the controversial public charter schools bill. The Senate Finance Committee was set to take up the bill (SB14) at its afternoon meeting when Kessler (D-Marshall) said he looked around the room and noticed three Republican members of the committee weren’t there.

So he made a motion to postpone the bill indefinitely. It passed 8-6 with all Democratic members voting in favor of Kessler’s motion.

“We had more numbers than them so I decided we were going to postpone it indefinitely. It is a democracy and we had more votes than they did and we won and it’s dead, postponed indefinitely,” Kessler cited the rules of the Senate uses from Jefferson’s Manual.

The Senate Education Committee spent more than three weeks on the bill that would have allowed county school boards to create public charter schools. Kessler said no one wanted the bill.

“When you ask the state school board did they have any input into the drafting of this bill? No. When you ask the school superintendent? No. When you ask the state school principals? No. When you ask the state school board association? No. When you ask the state teachers? No,” Kessler said.

The minority leader said spending additional time on the bill would just be a waste of time. “You can polish that pig all you want and it’s not going to look any better to me.”

Kessler said the finance committee needs to spend its time working on a balanced budget.

Sen. John Unger (D-Berkeley) said the motion Kessler made to postpone discussion on the bill indefinitely is different than tabling a bill. He said when a bill is tabled it can be reconsidered.

He said a motion to postpone indefinitely, according to Jefferson’s Manual, means a bill cannot be discussed until the next session of the Legislature. Unger suggested to Kessler that he make the motion. Unger has been a critic of the charter schools bill. He said he believed it would make a two-class system in the West Virginia school system.