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Speaker requests public hearing on big education bill

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By Brad McElhinny, WV MetroNews

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — As teachers unions across West Virginia count strike authorization votes, the Speaker of the House of Delegates has called for a public hearing on an education bill under consideration.

The public hearing may be as soon as Monday in the House chamber.

Teachers unions plan to gather Saturday in Flatwoods to tally the local work action votes.

The 129-page education bill hit the House this week and is currently under consideration by the Education Committee.

“We said from the start of our deliberations that we would accept input from all sides in this process, and that includes hearing from our teachers, students, parents and administrators,” stated Hanshaw, R-Clay.

“A public hearing will allow our citizens, and all those affected by this bill, the opportunity to have their voices heard.”

A common complaint among teachers and service personnel was that they didn’t have opportunities to comment as the bill was being formulated in the state Senate.

Hanshaw sent a letter Thursday morning to Danny Hamrick, chairman of the House Education Committee, and Eric Householder, chairman of House Finance.

“While our Education and Finance committees hear from experts on questions related to this bill, this hearing will allow those on the front lines of our education system to weigh in,” Hanshaw stated.

“We want to make our education system the best it can be for all involved, and this hearing will provide valuable input on this process.”

The West Virginia Education Association, one of the three educators unions, welcomed the public hearing.

“We are glad that educators and parents will have an opportunity to voice their concerns over the bill. Hopefully the public hearing will be scheduled at a time that does not limit both educators and parents from attending,” said WVEA spokeswoman Kym Randolph.

“Educators are excited to have the opportunity to talk about the things that would make our schools better and help increase student achievement. Their list of helpful programs varies greatly from what the Senate has included in the bill.”

Randolph said, though, that work action authorization votes have continued and that the Flatwoods meeting would go on as planned.