WV Center for Professional Development survives budgeting process

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WV Center for Professional Development survives budgeting process
By Jeff Jenkins, WV MetroNews

A state-funded professional training center begins a three-day conference Monday in Charleston just days after it faced possible elimination in the state budgeting process.

Funding had been stripped away from the West Virginia Center for Professional Development (WVCPD) in the budget plans that were going back and forth between Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin and state lawmakers. When the budget (SB1013) passed the Senate last week it had no funding for the Center but House members were able to add back $1.5 million. That amount was later approved by the Senate and part of the budget signed into law by Tomblin last Friday.

WVCPD lost about $700,000 in the process but chief executive officer Dr. Dixie Billheimer is just glad the funding made it through.

“We appreciate all of the work they’ve had to do because they’ve been faced with some tough decisions and we understand that. We really appreciate the governor and the legislators,” Billheimer said.

The Center for Professional Development trains teachers in a number of areas. It also oversees Advanced Placement courses, conducts academies for school principals along with other training. During last week’s floor debate, a member of the House criticized the Center for getting away from its original 1991 mission to solely train teachers. Billheimer said they’ve only added programs the legislature has mandated.

“The Center’s original mission may have been solely for teachers but the Center has been added into state code that we provide the principal’s leadership academy that we are the center for advanced placement in West Virginia, we have a professional development component and last year we were even added for the Jason Flatt Act to make sure we provide online resources for suicide prevention,” she said. “We follow what we are given to do in state code.”

The Center, which has 16 employees, may be in for changes because it will receive less funding in the new budget. Billheimer said the agency is operated efficiently and carry-over funds may make any impact less severe.

The possible elimination of the Center may serve as a wake-up call to teachers and principals who have benefited from its programs, Billheimer said.

“They are starting to be more aggressive in telling our story as well because they value what we do,” she said.

The Center will host educators beginning Monday in Charleston for a three-day Infusing Technology Academy at the Charleston Marriott.