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March 6, 2020

There is only one more day left in the regular legislative session and several bills were on third reading/passage stage. In the Senate HB 4804 passed by a vote of 34-0 and will now be sent to the governor. This bill would allow county boards to develop teacher leader programs to help with teacher induction and professional growth. The county board may adopt a salary supplement to provide additional compensation to teachers who are teacher leaders. The bill would require the Department of Education to allocate $100,000 over five years to assist county boards with the design and implementation of a teacher leader program.

After being laid over on third reading yesterday, HB 4398 was laid over again today. The purpose of this bill is to incorporate into Celebrate Freedom Week the original texts of the Mayflower Compact, Declaration of Independence, the Constitution of the United States and its amendments, the Bill of Rights, Federalist Papers and the Constitution of West Virginia. It will continue to be on third reading tomorrow.

HB 4737 was also laid over for one day and will continue to be on third reading tomorrow. This bill says that if a student is unable to complete the FAFSA due to extenuating family circumstances, as determined by the vice chancellor for administration in consultation with the student’s high school, it will not affect the student’s eligibility for state financial aid. It will now go to the governor.

Several bills were moved off the inactive calendar and put back on second reading today. HB 4069 is known as The West Virginia Student Religious Liberties Act. It would do a number of things including: protect students and parents from being discriminated against on the basis of religion, allow students to express their religious beliefs in assignments, allow students to engage in religious activities before, during and after the school day in the same manner and to the same extent that students may engage in nonreligious activities or expression. During the Senate Education Committee most of section 5 of the bill was removed which requires school districts to create a limited public forum for student speakers for school events. The bill will be on third reading tomorrow.

Also on second reading was HB 4497. This bill would require an automated defibrillator device be present at all secondary school athletic events and practices. The bill also requires action plans to be posted and defibrillators to be present on school or event grounds. All appropriate school sports personnel must be trained on how to use the device. The WVSSAC will be required to include language concerning proximity in their rules for this bill. These devices must be present beginning with the 2021-22 school year. Once enacted, it will be called the Alex Miller Law in memory of the Roane High School football player who died during a game last year.

HB 4535 was also put back on the active calendar on second reading. This bill would add four student aide titles to the class titles for school service personnel. Those new titles are:

  • AIDE V: Special Education Assistant Teacher- Temporary Authorization
  • AIDE V: Special Education Assistant Teacher
  • AIDE VI: Behavioral Support Assistant Teacher- Temporary Authorization
  • AIDE VI: Behavioral Support Assistant Teacher

Over in the House, SB 291 was on third reading and passed by a vote of 84-14. This bill would require PEIA to treat behavioral/mental health and substance abuse treatment equally to medical and surgical treatment. It must now go back to the Senate to ask them to concur with changes made in the House.


March 5, 2020

With just two days left in the session, several bills passed in both the House and the Senate today. In the House SB 42 passed by a vote 83-15. This bill would permit county boards of education to include faith-based and nonfaith-based electives in classroom drug prevention programs. The State Board would have to develop a rule on how that would work. The bill will now be sent to the Senate to ask them to concur with changes made in the House.

SB 230 passed by a vote of 98-0. This bill requires a school administrator to provide information and opportunities to discuss suicide prevention awareness to all middle and high school students. It also requires that the State Board provide routine education to all professional educators and service personnel in direct contact with students on the warning signs and resources to assist in suicide prevention. This bill will also go back to the Senate to ask them to concur with changes made in the House.

SB 303 passed by a vote of 96-0. This bill would require the State Board to compile information about the most in-demand jobs in the state, the average cost of all major colleges and vocational schools in the state, the average monthly student loan rate for those who have attended colleges and vocational schools, each branch of military’s starting salary and contact information and more. That information would then be distributed to every public high school. The bill will go back to the Senate to ask them to concur. This bill will also go back to the Senate to ask them to concur with changes made in the House.

SB 691 passed by a vote of 98-0. This bill allows the State Board of Education to create their own alternative preparation programs. They do not have to work with any other partner. This bill will now go to the governor.

SB 291 was on second reading in the House today. This bill would require PEIA to treat behavioral/mental health and substance abuse treatment equally to medical and surgical treatment.

Over in the Senate HB 4165 was on third reading and passed by a vote of 32-0. This bill would allow veterans to volunteer to come into schools to teach children about military service and patriotism. This program would be voluntary and not considered a course requirement. The bill now goes to the governor.

HB 4378 passed by a vote of 33-0 and will now go back to the House to ask them to concur with changes made in the Senate. This bill authorizes the State Superintendent to limit teaching certificates, issue letters of admonishment or enter into consent agreements requiring specific training in order for a teacher to maintain a certificate. It also allows for the revocation of a license in the case of the following: committed any act of sexual abuse of a student or minor or to have engaged in inappropriate sexual conduct with a student or minor; committed an act of cruelty to children or an act of child endangerment; or solicited, encouraged, engaged in or consummated an inappropriate relationship with any student, minor, or individual; having a relationship with a student within 12 months of that student’s graduation.

Two bills were brought back onto the active calendar and were on second reading today. HB 4737 says that if a student is unable to complete the FAFSA due to extenuating family circumstances, as determined by the vice chancellor for administration in consultation with the student’s high school, it will not affect the student’s eligibility for state financial aid.

HB 4804 would allow county boards to develop teacher leader programs to help with teacher induction and professional growth. The county board may adopt a salary supplement to provide additional compensation to teachers who are teacher leaders. The bill would require the Department of Education to allocate $100,000 over five years to assist county boards with the design and implementation of a teacher leader program.


March 4, 2020

It was another long day at the capitol. Over in the house, the budget bill (SB 150) dominated most of the day with amendments and discussion. Only one education-related bill was on third reading today. SB 614 passed by a vote of 96-0. This is a follow-up to a bill passed last year. During the 2019 session, legislators passed a bill that created the Safe School Fund and required that all special education classrooms have cameras. Although that bill was signed into law last year, there was not enough funding for every school in the state to install the cameras. SB 614 would require the WV Department of Education to allocate funding for the Safe Schools Fund based on the remaining need for video cameras in each district until all districts are in compliance. The bill will be sent back to Senate to ask them to concur with amendments made in the House.

There were several bills on second reading today.  SB 42 would permit county boards of education to include faith-based and nonfaith-based electives in classroom drug prevention programs. The State Board would have to develop a rule on how that would work. No amendments were made and it will be on third reading tomorrow.

SB 723 would require the Department of Education to analyze data collected statewide on school disciplinary actions. Based on this data, they are then required to develop a program to address the number of disciplinary actions taken against students. The Department must also report their findings to the Legislative Oversight Commission on Education Accountability every two years beginning in 2022. It will be on third reading tomorrow.

Also on third reading tomorrow is SB 750. It would require the county boards of education to develop and adopt an Extended Learning Opportunities policy that includes alternative educational opportunities for elective course credit that recognizes learning opportunities outside of the traditional classroom. Non-profits, businesses, parents and teachers may apply and submit proposals for these opportunities.

SB 842 would require the State Superintendent to create the Behavior Interventionalist Program. The program would run for three years in at least two counties but no more than ten. The state superintendent would use the following criteria when choosing the two counties: counties with a high number of students with an IEP, high number of students with behavior issues and the resources available to hire and train someone for this position. The chosen counties may create a new position titled Behavior Interventionalist. A committee consisting of principals, teachers, classroom aids and teacher organizations will convene to assist the county boards on the requirements for the position. No amendments were made and it will be on third reading tomorrow.

SB 691 will also be on third reading tomorrow. This bill allows the State Board of Education to create their own alternative preparation programs. They do not have to work with any other partner.

SB 230 was moved from the inactive calendar back to the active calendar today and was on second reading. SB 230 requires a school administrator to provide information and opportunities to discuss suicide prevention awareness to all middle and high school students. It also requires that the State Board provide routine education to all professional educators and service personnel in direct contact with students on the warning signs and resources to assist in suicide prevention.

SB 303 was also moved back onto the active calendar today and was on second reading. This bill would require the State Board to compile information about the most in-demand jobs in the state, the average cost of all major colleges and vocational schools in the state, the average monthly student loan rate for those who have attended colleges and vocational schools and more. That information would then be distributed to every public high school. An amendment was proposed today by Delegate Jefferies that would include in the bill each branch of the military’s starting salary and their contact information. The amendment passed and the amended bill will be on third reading tomorrow.

SB 291 was on first reading today. This bill would require PEIA to treat behavioral/mental health and substance abuse treatment equally to medical and surgical treatment. It will be on second reading tomorrow.

The Senate had a very long floor session today with a multitude of bills to get through. HB 4780 was on third reading and passed by a vote of 30-3. This bill would allow the county boards of education to offer students in grades 9 and up the following classes:

  1. An elective social studies course on the Hebrew Scriptures, Old Testament of the Bible;
  2. An elective social studies course on the New Testament of the Bible; or
  3. An elective social studies course on the Hebrew Scriptures and the New Testament of the Bible.

The bill requires the State Board of Education to include course standards in the program of studies for West Virginia schools, including the teacher qualifications and required professional development. The bill will be sent to the governor.

HB 4519 creates a summer youth intern pilot program with the Department of Commerce. The Department will work with employers, non-profits and institutions especially in areas of high-demand career fields to place high school students in internships. It passed by a vote of 34-0 and will now go to the governor.

HB 4546 passed by a vote of 34-0. The purpose of this bill is to remove the requirement for biennial tuberculosis screenings for county superintendents. Testing may still be required when there is suspicion that the superintendent has been exposed to TB or they demonstrate symptoms. (A similar bill that eliminated the test for teachers was passed several years ago.) The bill will now be sent to the governor.

HB 4691 passed by a vote of 34-0. The purpose of this bill is to clarify and provide greater visibility to provisions that enable school systems to recruit and employ newly graduating teachers and other professional personnel who will begin employment in the next school year in areas of critical need. Also, the provision already in code that allows retired teachers to be hired in areas of critical need was set to expire on June 30, 2020. This bill would extend that date to June 30, 2025. It will now go to the governor.

HB 4165 was on second reading today. This bill would allow veterans to volunteer to come into schools to teach children about military service and patriotism. This program would be voluntary and not considered a course requirement. The bill will be on third reading tomorrow.

After being removed from the active calendar yesterday, HB 4378 was put back on the active calendar today and was on second reading. This bill authorizes the State Superintendent to limit teaching certificates, issue letters of admonishment or enter into consent agreements requiring specific training in order for a teacher to maintain a certificate. It also allows for the revocation of a license in the case of the following: committed any act of sexual abuse of a student or minor or to have engaged in inappropriate sexual conduct with a student or minor; committed an act of cruelty to children or an act of child endangerment; or solicited, encouraged, engaged in or consummated an inappropriate relationship with any student, minor, or individual who was a student in the preceding 24 months.

An amendment was proposed by Senator Weld that would clarify that a teacher has the right to a hearing. The amendment also changes the number of months after graduation a teacher may engage in a relationship with a student from 24 to 12. The amendment passed and the amended bill will be on third reading tomorrow.

Several bills that were supposed to be on second reading in the Senate today were moved to the inactive calendar. Those include HB 4069 (Student Religious Liberties), HB 4497 Alex Miller Law), HB 4804 (Teacher Leaders), HB 4737 (State Financial Aid), HB 2775 (Finance Course) and HB 4535 (Student Aid Titles). We are unsure of when or if these bills will return to the active calendar.


March 3, 2020

It was an extremely busy day at the capitol. The day began with the House Floor session. SB 614 was on second reading. This is a follow-up to a bill passed last year. During the 2019 session, legislators passed a bill that created the Safe School Fund and required that all special education classrooms have cameras. Although that bill was signed into law last year, there was not enough funding for every school in the state to install the cameras. SB 614 would require the WV Department of Education to allocate funding for the Safe Schools Fund based on the remaining need for video cameras in each district until all districts are in compliance. No amendments were made and it will be on third reading/passage stage tomorrow.

Several bills were on first reading. SB 42 would permit county boards of education to include faith-based and nonfaith-based electives in classroom drug prevention programs. The State Board would have to develop a rule on how that would work. It will be on second reading/amendment stage tomorrow.

SB 723 would require the Department of Education to analyze data collected statewide on school disciplinary actions. Based on this data, they are then required to develop a program to address the number of disciplinary actions taken against students. The Department must also report their findings to the Legislative Oversight Commission on Education Accountability every two years beginning in 2022. It will be on second reading tomorrow.

SB 750 will also be on second reading tomorrow. It would require the county boards of education to develop and adopt an Extended Learning Opportunities policy that includes alternative educational opportunities for elective course credit that recognizes learning opportunities outside of the traditional classroom. Non-profits, businesses, parents and teachers may apply and submit proposals for these opportunities.

SB 842 would require the State Superintendent to create the Behavior Interventionalist Program. The program would run for three years in at least two counties but no more than ten. The state superintendent would use the following criteria when choosing the two counties: counties with a high number of students with an IEP, high number of students with behavior issues and the resources available to hire and train someone for this position. The chosen counties may create a new position titled Behavior Interventionalist. A committee consisting of principals, teachers, classroom aids and teacher organizations will convene to assist the county boards on the requirements for the position. It will be on second reading tomorrow.

Multiple bills were also on the Senate Floor today. After being laid over for one day, HB 4790 was on third reading. This bill will move some Vo-Tech options and a family and consumer science option to middle school. The county boards would be in charge of coming up with a plan. The bill passed by a vote of 34-0 and must now go back to the House to ask them to concur with changes the House made.

HB 4398 was also on third reading but was taken off the Senate calendar and moved to the inactive calendar. The purpose of this bill is to incorporate into Celebrate Freedom Week the original texts of the Mayflower Compact, Declaration of Independence, the Constitution of the United States and its amendments, the Bill of Rights, Federalist Papers and the Constitution of West Virginia.

HB 4925 passed by a vote of 34-0. This bill would require the West Virginia Secondary Schools Athletic Commission to recognize private, parochial or church schools or schools of a religious order or other nonpublic schools that meet the requirements of the WVSSAC for nonparticipating school or team members. This bill does not allow non-member schools to compete in WV, but the recognition is needed to allow them to compete in certain national events. After an amendment, the bill also now includes the language of HB 3127 (Tim Tebow bill). The bill must now go back to the House to ask them to concur with changes the House made.

HB 4780 was on second reading today. This bill would allow the county boards of education to offer students in grades 9 and up the following classes:

  1. An elective social studies course on the Hebrew Scriptures, Old Testament of the Bible;
  2. An elective social studies course on the New Testament of the Bible; or
  3. An elective social studies course on the Hebrew Scriptures and the New Testament of the Bible.

The bill requires the State Board of Education to include course standards in the program of studies for West Virginia schools, including the teacher qualifications and required professional development. Senator Baldwin offered an amendment to change the bill to the Senate version (SB 38) which would only allow county boards to offer students in grades 9 and up a social studies elective in sacred texts or comparative religions. The amendment was rejected by a vote of 15-19.

HB 4378 was also on second reading but was moved from the Senate Calendar to the inactive calendar. This bill authorizes the State Superintendent to limit teaching certificates, issue letters of admonishment or enter into consent agreements requiring specific training in order for a teacher to maintain a certificate. It also allows for the revocation of a license in the case of the following: committed any act of sexual abuse of a student or minor or to have engaged in inappropriate sexual conduct with a student or minor; committed an act of cruelty to children or an act of child endangerment; or solicited, encouraged, engaged in or consummated an inappropriate relationship with any student, minor, or individual who was a student in the preceding 24 months.

HB 4519 creates a summer youth intern pilot program with the Department of Commerce. The Department will work with employers, non-profits and institutions especially in areas of high-demand career fields to place high school students in internships. It was on second reading and will be on third reading tomorrow.

Also on second reading was HB 4546. The purpose of this bill is to remove the requirement for biennial tuberculosis screenings for county superintendents. Testing may still be required when there is suspicion that the superintendent has been exposed to TB or they demonstrate symptoms. (A similar bill that eliminated the test for teachers was passed several years ago.)

The Senate Education Committee met this afternoon with a laundry list of bills to get through. First up was HB 4165. This bill would allow veterans to volunteer to come into schools to teach children about military service and patriotism. This program would be voluntary and not considered a course requirement.

HB 4069 is known as The West Virginia Student Religious Liberties Act. It would do a number of things including: protect students and parents from being discriminated against on the basis of religion, allow students to express their religious beliefs in assignments, allow students to engage in religious activities before, during and after the school day in the same manner and to the same extent that students may engage in nonreligious activities or expression. A strike and insert version of the bill was introduced that removed most of section 5 of the bill which requires school districts to create a limited public forum for student speakers for school events. The amended bill passed out of the committee and will now go to the Judiciary Committee.

The committee also took up HB 4497. This bill would require an automated defibrillator device and a trained device operator be present at all secondary school athletic events and practices. The bill also requires action plans to be posted and defibrillators to be present on school or event grounds. The devices must be as close to the events and practices as practical. Once enacted, it will be called the Alex Miller Law in memory of the Roane High School football player who died during a game last year.

A strike and insert version of the bill was introduced which made all devices required in schools by the 2021-22 school year, removed the language that said the device must be as close as possible and says all appropriate athletic personnel must be trained on how to use the devices. Senator Baldwin then moved to amend the strike and insert to say that when the WVSSAC develops the rules for this bill, they include something about the device’s proximity to the event. This amendment passed. The amended bill passed out of the committee and will now go to the Senate Floor.

HB 4804 would allow county boards to develop teacher leader programs to help with teacher induction and professional growth. The county board may adopt a salary supplement to provide additional compensation to teachers who are teacher leaders. The bill would require the Department of Education to allocate $100,000 over five years to assist county boards with the design and implementation of a teacher leader program. The bill passed out of the committee and will now be sent to the Senate Floor.

On the committee’s agenda was HB 4737. The bill says that if a student is unable to complete the FAFSA due to extenuating family circumstances, as determined by the vice chancellor for administration in consultation with the student’s high school, it will not affect the student’s eligibility for state financial aid. The bill passed out of the committee and will now go to the Senate Floor.

HB 2775 requires each student to complete a full credit of personal finance separate from any other courses. This would increase the graduation requirements from 22 credits to 23. An amendment was proposed that would no longer make the course a requirement, leaving the graduation requirement at 22 credits. The amendment passed and the amended bill will now go to the Senate Floor.

Finally, the committee discussed HB 4535. This bill would add four student aide titles to the class titles for school service personnel. Those new titles are:

  • AIDE V: Special Education Assistant Teacher- Temporary Authorization
  • AIDE V: Special Education Assistant Teacher
  • AIDE VI: Behavioral Support Assistant Teacher- Temporary Authorization
  • AIDE VI: Behavioral Support Assistant Teacher

The bill passed out of the committee and will now be sent to the Senate Floor.

SCR 53 was in the Senate Health and Human Resources Committee this afternoon. SCR 53 requests the Joint Committee on Government and Finance conduct a study regarding providing free feminine hygiene products to all female students in grades six through 12 in West Virginia public schools. The bill passed out of the committee and will now go to the Rules Committee.


March 2, 2020

The last week of this year’s Legislative Session began today with a House Education Committee meeting. They took up SB 42 which would permit county boards of education to include faith-based electives in classroom drug prevention programs. The State Board would have to develop a rule on how that would work. An amendment was proposed to add nonfaith-based electives to the bill. The amendment passed and the amended bill passed out of the committee and will now go to the House Floor.

They also discussed SB 842. This bill would require the State Superintendent to create the Behavior Interventionalist Program. The program would run for five years in two counties. The state superintendent would use the following criteria when choosing the two counties: counties with a high number of students with an IEP, high number of students with behavior issues and the resources available to hire and train someone for this position. The chosen counties may create a new position titled Behavior Interventionalist. A committee consisting of principals, teachers, classroom aids and teacher organizations will convene to advise the county boards on the requirements for the position.

Several amendments were made to this bill in the committee. Originally the bill said that if the job was deemed a service personnel position, they would be assigned a pay grade D. An amendment changed that to a pay grade F. Another amendment changed to bill to allow at least two and up to ten school districts to be chosen and changed how long the program would run in those counties from five to three years. Finally, language that says “teacher organizations will advise county boards” was changed to “teacher organizations will assist county boards”. The amended bill passed out of the committee and will now go to the House Floor.

The committee also took up SB 702. This bill allows a school district to develop or adopt a program that focuses on nutrition and exercise education. The program should focus on increasing awareness as to how nutrition and exercise can prevent childhood obesity and its secondary diseases such as asthma, diabetes and others. The bill also creates the Nutrition and Exercise Education Fund in the State Treasury as a special revenue account. The fund will consist of money appropriated by the Legislature and any grants, gifts or contributions. The money will be awarded to school districts on a competitive basis. The bill was rejected and died in committee.

During the House Floor session, two bills were on second reading. SB 230 requires a school administrator to provide information and opportunities to discuss suicide prevention awareness to all middle and high school students. It also requires that the State Board provide routine education to all professional educators and service personnel in direct contact with students on the warning signs and resources to assist in suicide prevention. This bill was moved from the House Calendar to the inactive calendar. It is unclear if it will be taken up in the future.

SB 303 would require the State Board to compile information about the most in-demand jobs in the state, the average cost of all major colleges and vocational schools in the state, the average monthly student loan rate for those who have attended colleges and vocational schools and more. That information would then be distributed to every public high school. This bill was also placed on the inactive calendar and we are unsure of if it will be taken up later in the week.

SB 614 was on first reading today. This is a follow-up to a bill passed last year. During the 2019 session, legislators passed a bill that created the Safe School Fund and required that all special education classrooms have cameras. Although that bill was signed into law last year, there was not enough funding for every school in the state to install the cameras. SB 614 would require the WV Department of Education to allocate funding for the Safe Schools Fund based on the remaining need for video cameras in each district until all districts are in compliance. It will be on second reading tomorrow.

In the Senate there were two bills on third reading. HB 3127 passed by a vote of 32-1. This is the House version of the Tim Tebow bill. The bill would allow home-schooled students to participate in secondary extracurricular and interscholastic activities. There are some requirements of the Tebow student written in the bill including: demonstrating satisfactory evidence of academic progress for one year; be enrolled in at least one virtual course; comply with the disciplinary rules of the SSAC and the county board; and agrees to obey all rules of the SSAC parental consents, physical exams and vaccinations. It will now be sent to the governor for signature.

HB 4790 was laid over for one day and will be on third reading tomorrow. This bill will move some Vo-Tech options and a family and consumer science option to middle school. The county boards would be in charge of coming up with a plan.

HB 4398 was on second reading. The purpose of this bill is to incorporate into currently required coursework the original texts of the Mayflower Compact, Declaration of Independence, the Constitution of the United States and its amendments, the Bill of Rights, Federalist Papers and the Constitution of West Virginia. It will be on third reading/passage tomorrow.

HB 4925 was also on second reading today. This bill would require the West Virginia Secondary Schools Athletic Commission to recognize private, parochial or church schools or schools of a religious order or other nonpublic schools that meet the requirements of the WVSSAC for nonparticipating school or team members. This bill does not allow non-member schools to compete in WV, but the recognition is needed to allow them to compete in certain national events. Senator Rucker moved to amend the bill by adding the language of HB 3127 (Tim Tebow). The amendment passed and the amended bill will be on third reading tomorrow.

HB 4780 was read for a first time today. This bill would allow the county boards of education to offer students in grades 9 and up the following classes:

  1. An elective social studies course on the Hebrew Scriptures, Old Testament of the Bible;
  2. An elective social studies course on the New Testament of the Bible; or
  3. An elective social studies course on the Hebrew Scriptures and the New Testament of the Bible.

The bill requires the State Board of Education to include course standards in the program of studies for West Virginia schools, including the teacher qualifications and required professional development.


February 29, 2020

It was a rare Saturday workday in both the Senate and the House. Here is a quick recap of education-related bills moving today in both houses.

In House Education, SB 691- Alternative Certification; SB 707 – Nursing Pathways; SB 750 – Extended Learning Opportunities; SB 839- Higher Ed Career Group; and SB 723- Discipline were all passed out of committee and will head to the House floor.

House Education will meet again on Monday morning at 9 am.

In Senate Education, HB 4546 –TB testing for Superintendents; HB 4414– Deaf Children Milestones; HB 4691- Critical Needs; and HB 4378 -Discipline of Teachers all passed by voice vote.

The Senate met in a floor session and spent most of the time discussing the budget. A few education bills were taken up. HB 3127 - Tebow bill was advanced to third reading. HB 4790 - Career and Technical schools was also on second reading. A home economics amendment was amended to the bill before advancing it to third reading.  Those bills will be up for passage when the Senate convenes on Monday.


February 28, 2020

Today began with a House Education Committee meeting. They discussed SB 230. A similar bill to this was passed several years ago; however, after the elimination of the Center for Professional Development the training was no longer required. SB 230 requires a school administrator to provide information and opportunities to discuss suicide prevention awareness to all middle and high school students. It also requires that the State Board provide routine education to all professional educators and service personnel in direct contact with students on the warning signs and resources to assist in suicide prevention. One amendment was made today to reinstate calling the bill “Jamie’s Law”. The amended bill passed out of the committee and will now go to the House Floor.

The committee also took up SB 303. This bill would require the State Board to compile information about the most in-demand jobs in the state, the average cost of all major colleges and vocational schools in the state, the average monthly student loan rate for those who have attended colleges and vocational schools and more. That information would then be distributed to every public high school. It passed out of the committee and will now go to the House Floor.

There were two bills on third reading in the House today. SB 241 requires the State Board of Education to propose revisions to the calculation of the allowance for service personnel in step 2 of the funding formula. This would provide additional funded bus driver positions for counties with lower population-density covering large geographic areas. The Board must report the proposal to the Legislature before September 1, 2020. It passed the House by a vote of 92-0. This was a committee substitute and must now go back to the Senate to ask them to concur on the changes.

SB 652 would allow the School Building Authority to look at a contractor’s experience, past performance, violations and other things before granting a contract. It would also allow them to suspend a contract if they feel a contractor is not meeting their requirements. It passed the House by a vote of 94-5 and will now go to the Governor.

On the Senate Floor HB 3127 was taken up for immediate consideration and read a first time. This is the House version of the Tim Tebow bill. The bill would allow home-schooled students to participate in secondary extracurricular and interscholastic activities. There are some requirements written in the bill including: demonstrating satisfactory evidence of academic progress for one year; be enrolled in at least one virtual course; comply with the disciplinary rules of the SSAC and the county board; and agrees to obey all SSAC rules regarding parental consents, physical exams and vaccinations. It will be on second reading next week.

There were also two concurrent resolutions in the Senate today. SCR 53 requests the Joint Committee on Government and Finance conduct a study regarding providing free feminine hygiene products to all female students in grades six through 12 in West Virginia public schools. The resolution was sent to the Health and Human Resources Committee and then the Rules Committee.

SCR 54 requests the Joint Committee on Government and Finance to review West Virginia’s academic standards, in particular English Language Arts and Mathematics standards, to compare how West Virginia’s standards compare with the standards of other states.  A Joint Standing Committee on Education is asked to formed to complete the review and to make recommendations to the State Board of Education for ensuring that Common Core Standards in West Virginia are eliminated and that the state returns to the basics of reading, writing, and arithmetic. The resolution was sent to the Education Committee and then the Rules Committee.

The Senate Education Committee met this afternoon and took up several bills. HB 4790 will move some Vo-Tech options to middle school. The county boards would be in charge of coming up with a plan. The bill passed out of the committee and will now be sent to the Senate Floor.

HB 4925 would require the West Virginia Secondary Schools Athletic Commission to recognize private, parochial or church schools or schools of a religious order or other nonpublic schools that meet the requirements of the WVSSAC for nonparticipating school or team members. This bill does not allow non-member schools to compete in WV, but is needed to allow them to compete in certain national events. The bill passed out of the committee and will now be sent to the Senate Floor.

HB 4519 creates a summer youth intern pilot program with the Department of Commerce. The Department will work with employers, non-profits and institutions especially in areas of high-demand career fields to place high school students in internships. The bill passed out of the committee and will now be sent to the Senate Finance Committee.


February 27, 2020

Now that crossover day is over, things slowed down at the capitol today. There were no education-related bills on the Senate Floor. Two bills were on second reading in the House. SB 241 requires the State Board of Education to propose revisions to the calculation of the allowance for service personnel in step 2 of the funding formula. This would provide additional funded bus driver positions for counties with lower population-density covering large geographic areas. The Board must report the proposal to the Legislature before September 1, 2020. No amendments were made and it will be on third reading tomorrow.

There were also no amendments made to SB 652. This bill would allow the School Building Authority to look at a contractor’s experience, past performance, violations and other things before granting a contract. It would also allow them to suspend a contract if they feel a contractor is not meeting their requirements. It will be on third reading tomorrow.

The Senate Education Committee met this afternoon. They discussed HB 4398. The purpose of this bill is to incorporate into currently required coursework the original texts of the Mayflower Compact, Declaration of Independence, the Constitution of the United States and its amendments, the Bill of Rights, Federalist Papers and the Constitution of West Virginia. The bill passed out of the committee and will now go to the Senate Floor.


February 26, 2020

It was crossover day for the Legislature which means there were many bills on third reading in both the Senate and the House. 

 

We will start with bills in the Senate. SB 38 passed by a vote of 34-0 and will now be sent to the House. This bill says that county boards may offer students in grades 9 and up a social studies elective in sacred texts or comparative religions.

 

SB 616 passed by a vote of 27-7 and will now be sent to the House. Senators Stollings, Facemire, Prezioso, Baldwin, Hardesty, Lindsay and Romano were the no votes. This is the grievance process bill and contains a number of provisions that are of concern to WVEA. They include:

  • Language allowing the prevailing party in an appeal to the Circuit or Supreme Court to recover court costs and reasonable attorney’s fees from the opposing party for the appeal to the court.
  • Proposed language stating that “When the grievant has been discharged, suspended without pay, or demoted or reclassified resulting in a loss of compensation or benefits, he or she may proceed directly to level two.” Currently the grievant can go directly to level three and waive levels one and two in those situations. This delays the decision for the grievant and extends the process unnecessarily.

SB 661 passed by a vote of 34-0 and will now be sent to the House. This bill would replace the minimum minutes of instructional time required per day with a requirement for an average of five hours per day throughout the instructional term. It would also require that public notice for hearings about a county’s school calendar be posted in the newspaper and on the county board’s website.

SB 750 passed by a vote of 34-0 and will now head to the House. This bill would require the county boards of education to develop and adopt an Extended Learning Opportunities policy that includes alternative educational opportunities for elective course credit that recognizes learning opportunities outside of the traditional classroom. Non-profits, businesses, parents and teachers may apply and submit proposals for these opportunities.

 

SB 842 passed by a vote of 34-0. This bill would require the State Superintendent to create the Behavior Interventionalist Program. The program would run for five years in two counties. The state superintendent would use the following criteria when choosing the two counties: counties with a high number of students with an IEP, high number of students with behavior issues and the resources available to hire and train someone for this position. The chosen counties then may create a new position titled Behavior Interventionalist. A committee consisting of principals, teachers, classroom aids and teacher organizations will convene to decide on the requirements for the position.

 

There were also several bills on third reading in the House. SB 725 was on third reading today but was taken off the House calendar and placed on the inactive calendar. This bill requires money remaining unappropriated from fiscal year ending June 30, 2020 will be given to the State Board of Education, the Vocational Division and the Aid for Exceptional Children.

 

HB 2897 passed by a vote of 97-0 and will now be sent to the Senate. It would make it optional for school zone flashing beacons to be active when students are present at a school for student activities occurring outside of a school’s regular hours.

 

HB 4497 passed by a vote of 100-0 and will now be sent to the Senate. This bill would require an automated defibrillator device and a trained device operator be present at all secondary school athletic events and practices. The bill also requires action plans to be posted and defibrillators to be present on school or event grounds. The devices must be as close to the events and practices as practical. Once enacted, it will be called the Alex Miller Law in memory of the Roane High School football player who died during a game last year.

 

HB 4535 passed by a vote of 94-0. This bill would add four student aide titles to the class titles for school service personnel. Those new titles are:

  • AIDE V: Special Education Assistant Teacher- Temporary Authorization
  • AIDE V: Special Education Assistant Teacher
  • AIDE VI: Behavioral Support Assistant Teacher- Temporary Authorization
  • AIDE VI: Behavioral Support Assistant Teacher

HB 4804 passed by a vote of 96-0. This bill would allow county boards to develop teacher leader programs to help with teacher induction and professional growth. The county board may adopt a salary supplement to provide additional compensation to teachers who are teacher leaders. The bill would require the Department of Education to allocate $100,000 over five years to assist county boards with the design and implementation of a teacher leader program.

 

HB 4925 passed by a vote of 97-0. This bill would require the West Virginia Secondary Schools Athletic Commission to recognize private, parochial or church schools or schools of a religious order or other nonpublic schools that meet the requirements of the WVSSAC for nonparticipating school or team members. This bill does not allow non-member schools to compete in WV, but is needed to allow them to compete in certain national events.


February 25, 2020

It was another busy day at the capitol. All eyes were on SJR 9 again today as it was still on third reading after being laid over yesterday. SJR 9 is the proposed constitutional amendment that would give the Legislature the ability to lower personal property taxes. Personal property taxes account for over $380 million for county schools through the counties’ regular and excess levies. An amendment to the constitution requires a 2/3 majority vote which means 23 votes would have been needed to pass. The resolution failed with a vote of 18-16. You can find WVEA's statement on the resolution's failure on our Dedicated Teachers Facebook page. 

There were several other bills in the Senate today.

  • SB 38: This bill would allow county boards to offer students in grades 9 and up a social studies elective in sacred texts or comparative religions. It was on third reading and laid over one day. It will continue to be on third reading tomorrow.
  • SB 614: This is a follow-up to a bill passed last year. During the 2019 session, legislators passed a bill that created the Safe School Fund and required that all special education classrooms have cameras. Although that bill was signed into law last year, there was not enough funding for every school in the state to install the cameras. SB 614 would require the WV Department of Education to allocate funding for the Safe Schools Fund based on the remaining need for video cameras in each district until all districts are in compliance. It was also on third reading and passed by a vote of 33-0 and will now be sent to the House.
  • SB 775: This bill would require at least two water bottle filling stations be included in newly built and renovated schools. It was on second reading with no amendments. It will be on third reading tomorrow.
  • SB 842: This bill would require the State Superintendent to create the Behavior Interventionalist Program. The program would run for five years in two counties. The state superintendent would use the following criteria when choosing the two counties: counties with a high number of students with an IEP, high number of students with behavior issues and the resources available to hire and train someone for this position. The chosen counties then may create a new position titled Behavior Interventionalist. A committee consisting of principals, teachers, classroom aids and teacher organizations will convene to decide on the requirements for the position. It was on second reading and will be on third reading tomorrow.
  • SB 616: This is the grievance process bill and contains a number of provisions that are of concern to WVEA. They include:
    • Language allowing the prevailing party in an appeal to the Circuit or Supreme Court to recover court costs and reasonable attorney’s fees from the opposing party for the appeal to the court.
    • Proposed language stating that “When the grievant has been discharged, suspended without pay, or demoted or reclassified resulting in a loss of compensation or benefits, he or she may proceed directly to level two.” Currently the grievant can go directly to level three and waive levels one and two in those situations. This delays the decision for the grievant and extends the process unnecessarily.

It was on second reading today with no amendments made. It will be on third reading tomorrow.

 

There were also several bills in the House today.

  • HB 4780: This bill would allow the county boards of education to offer students in grades 9 and up the following classes:
    • An elective social studies course on the Hebrew Scriptures, Old Testament of the Bible;
    • An elective social studies course on the New Testament of the Bible; or
    • An elective social studies course on the Hebrew Scriptures and the New Testament of the Bible.

The bill requires the State Board of Education to include course standards in the program of studies for West Virginia schools, including the teacher qualifications and required professional development. The bill was on third reading today and passed by a vote of 73-26. I will now be sent to the Senate.

  • SB 725: This bill would require money remaining unappropriated from fiscal year ending June 30, 2020 be given to the State Board of Education, the Vocational Division and the Aid for Exceptional Children. It was on second reading with no amendments offered and will be on third reading tomorrow.
  • HB 2897: It would make it optional for school zone flashing beacons to be active when students are present at a school for student activities occurring outside of a school’s regular hours. This bill was also on second reading today.
  • HB 4497: This bill would require an automated defibrillator device and a trained device operator be present at all secondary school athletic events and practices. The bill also requires action plans to be posted and defibrillators to be present on school or event grounds. The devices must be as close to the events and practices as practical. Once enacted, it will be called the Alex Miller Law in memory of the Roane High School football player who died during a game last year. It will be on third reading tomorrow.
  • HB 4535: This bill would add four student aide titles to the class titles for school service personnel. Those new titles are:
    • AIDE V: Special Education Assistant Teacher- Temporary Authorization
    • AIDE V: Special Education Assistant Teacher
    • AIDE VI: Behavioral Support Assistant Teacher- Temporary Authorization
    • AIDE VI: Behavioral Support Assistant Teacher

This bill was on second reading and will be on third reading tomorrow.

  • HB 4804: This bill would allow county boards to develop teacher leader programs to help with teacher induction and professional growth. The county board may adopt a salary supplement to provide additional compensation to teachers who are teacher leaders. The bill would require the Department of Education to allocate $100,000 over five years to assist county boards with the design and implementation of a teacher leader program. It will also be on third reading tomorrow.
  • HB 4925: This bill would require the West Virginia Secondary Schools Athletic Commission to recognize private, parochial or church schools or schools of a religious order or other nonpublic schools that meet the requirements of the WVSSAC for nonparticipating school or team members. This bill does not allow non-member schools to compete in WV, but is needed to allow them to compete in certain national events. It was on second reading and will be on third reading tomorrow. 

February 24, 2020

There are just two weeks left in the Legislative Session and crossover day is on Wednesday. This means you can expect the next several days to be very busy. Today began in the House with a public hearing on HB 4780. This bill would allow the county boards of education to offer students in grades 9 and up the following classes:

  1. An elective social studies course on the Hebrew Scriptures, Old Testament of the Bible;
  2. An elective social studies course on the New Testament of the Bible; or
  3. An elective social studies course on the Hebrew Scriptures and the New Testament of the Bible.

The bill requires the State Board of Education to include course standards in the program of studies for West Virginia schools, including the teacher qualifications and required professional development. This bill was also on second reading today. No amendments were offered and it will be on third reading/passage tomorrow.

HB 3127 was on third reading in the House today and passed by a vote of 61-38. This is the House version of the Tim Tebow bill. The bill would allow home-schooled students to participate in secondary extracurricular and interscholastic activities. There are some requirements of the Tebow student written in the bill including: demonstrating satisfactory evidence of academic progress for one year; be enrolled in at least one virtual course; comply with the disciplinary rules of the SSAC and the county board; and agrees to obey all rules of the SSAC parental consents, physical exams and vaccinations. The bill will now be sent to the Senate.

There were several bills on first reading in the House. SB 725 would require money remaining unappropriated from fiscal year ending June 30, 2020 be given to the State Board of Education, the Vocational Division and the Aid for Exceptional Children. The bill will be on second reading/amendment stage tomorrow.

HB 2897 was also on first reading and will be on second reading tomorrow. It would make it optional for school zone flashing beacons to be active when students are present at a school for student activities occurring outside of a school’s regular hours.

HB 4497 would require an automated defibrillator device and a trained device operator be present at all secondary school athletic events and practices. The bill also requires action plans to be posted and defibrillators to be present on school or event grounds. The devices must be as close to the events and practices as practical. Once enacted, it will be called the Alex Miller Law in memory of the Roane High School football player who died during a game last year. It will be on second reading tomorrow.

Also on first reading was HB 4535. This bill would add four student aide titles to the class titles for school service personnel. Those new titles are:

  • AIDE V: Special Education Assistant Teacher- Temporary Authorization
  • AIDE V: Special Education Assistant Teacher
  • AIDE VI: Behavioral Support Assistant Teacher- Temporary Authorization
  • AIDE VI: Behavioral Support Assistant Teacher

This bill will be on second reading tomorrow.

HB 4804 will also be on second reading tomorrow. This bill would allow county boards to develop teacher leader programs to help with teacher induction and professional growth. The county board may adopt a salary supplement to provide additional compensation to teachers who are teacher leaders. The bill would require the Department of Education to allocate $100,000 over five years to assist county boards with the design and implementation of a teacher leader program.

Finally HB 4925 would require the West Virginia Secondary Schools Athletic Commission to recognize private, parochial or church schools or schools of a religious order or other nonpublic schools that meet the requirements of the WVSSAC for nonparticipating school or team members. This bill does not allow non-member schools to compete in WV, but is needed to allow them to compete in certain national events. It will be on second reading tomorrow.

There were also a multitude of education-related bills on the Senate Floor today. The biggest of those were SJR 9 and SB 837 which were both on third reading. SJR 9 is the proposed constitutional amendment that would give the Legislature the ability to lower personal property taxes. Personal property taxes account for over $380 million for county schools through the counties’ regular and excess levies.

SB 837 would be dependent on the passage of SJR 9 as it will eliminate the manufacturing and inventory taxes and automobile personal property tax over six years. This bill also establishes the replacement fund to replace the money lost in SJR 9. This would include a .5% sales tax increase, raising the tax on cigarettes from $1.20 per 20 cigarettes to $2.00, raising the tax on other tobacco products from 12% of the wholesale price to 50%, and raising the tax on vaping products from 7.5 cents per milliliter to 50% of the wholesale price.

After hours of debate, SB 837 passed by a vote of 17-16 with Republican Senators Hamilton and Pitsenbarger joining Democrats in a “no” vote and Senator Mann absent. However, without the passage the of SJR 9 this bill is irrelevant. SJR requires a 2/3 majority vote to pass. Republican senators obviously believe they do not have the votes as SJR 9 was laid over one day and will be on third reading tomorrow.

SB 723 passed by a vote of 33-0 and will now be sent to the House. This bill would require the Department of Education to analyze data collected statewide on school disciplinary actions. Based on this data, they are then required to develop a program to address the number of disciplinary actions taken against students. The Department must also report their findings to the Legislative Oversight Commission on Education Accountability every two years beginning in 2022.

SB 691 was on third reading and passed by a vote of 33-0. This bill says alternative programs to prepare teachers adopted or established by the State Board of Education are separate from programs already established in code. It will now be sent to the House.

SB 38 was on second reading. This bill would allow county boards to offer students in grades 9 and up a social studies elective in sacred texts or comparative religions. No amendments were offered and it will be on third reading tomorrow.

SB 614 was also on second reading today. This is a follow-up to a bill passed last year. During the 2019 session, legislators passed a bill that created the Safe School Fund and required that all special education classrooms have cameras. Although that bill was signed into law last year, there was not enough funding for every school in the state to install the cameras. SB 614 would require the WV Department of Education to allocate funding for the Safe Schools Fund based on the remaining need for video cameras in each district until all districts are in compliance. Once all districts have cameras in every special education classroom, then the distribution of funds will go back to normal (dividing total amount of appropriation by total number of public schools). No amendments were offered and it will be on third reading tomorrow.

SB 775 was on first reading and will be on second reading tomorrow. This bill would require at least two water bottle filling stations be included in newly built and renovated schools.

SB 842 was also on first reading. This was an originating bill in the Senate Education Committee last week. It would require the State Superintendent to create the Behavior Interventionalist Program. The program would run for five years in two counties. The state superintendent would use the following criteria when choosing the two counties: counties with a high number of students with an IEP, high number of students with behavior issues and the resources available to hire and train someone for this position. The chosen counties then may create a new position titled Behavior Interventionalist. A committee consisting of principals, teachers, classroom aids and teacher organizations will convene to decide on the requirements for the position. The county board would designate this position as either professional or service personnel.

SB 616, the grievance process bill, was reported to the floor from the Senate Judiciary Committee. Since crossover day is Wednesday, unanimous consent was given for the bill to be read a first time today as well. This bill contains a number of provisions that are of concern to WVEA. They include:

  • Language allowing the prevailing party in an appeal to the Circuit or Supreme Court to recover court costs and reasonable attorney’s fees from the opposing party for the appeal to the court.
  • Proposed language stating that “When the grievant has been discharged, suspended without pay, or demoted or reclassified resulting in a loss of compensation or benefits, he or she may proceed directly to level two.” Currently the grievant can go directly to level three and waive levels one and two in those situations. This delays the decision for the grievant and extends the process unnecessarily.

This bill will now be on second reading/ amendment stage tomorrow.

The House Education Committee met this afternoon to discuss several bills. First up was SB 241. The committee discussed a committee substitute version of this bill that is very different from the version that passed the Senate. This version of the bill requires the State Board of Education to propose revisions to the calculation of the allowance for service personnel in step 2 of the funding formula. This would provide additional funded service personnel positions for counties with lower population-density covering large geographic areas. The Board must report the proposal to the Legislature before September 1, 2020. This committee substitute passed out of the committee and will now be sent to the House Floor.

They also discussed SB 652. This bill would allow the School Building Authority to look at a contractor’s experience, past performance, violations and other things before granting a contract. It would also allow them to suspend a contract if they feel a contractor is not meeting their requirements. The bill passed out of the committee and will now be sent to the floor.


February 21, 2020

It was an unusually busy Friday at the Capitol. The morning began with a House Finance Committee meeting to discuss HB 4497. The purpose of this bill is to require an automated defibrillator device and a trained device operator be present at all secondary school athletic events. The bill also requires action plans to be posted and defibrillators to be present on school or event grounds. Once enacted, it will be called the Alex Miller Law in memory of the Roane High School football player who died during a game last year.

An amendment was proposed that would require the device also be present at practices and make the device as close to the event or practice as practical. The amendment passed and the amended bill passed out of the committee. It will now be sent to the House Floor.

The House Education Committee also met this morning. First on their agenda was HB 4925. The purpose of this bill is to require the West Virginia Secondary Schools Athletic Commission to recognize private, parochial or church schools or schools of a religious order or other nonpublic schools that meet the requirements of the WVSSAC for nonparticipating school or team members. This bill does allow non-member schools to compete in WV, but is needed to allow them to compete in certain national events. The bill passed out of the committee and will now be sent to the House Floor.

The committee also discussed HB 4535. This bill would add four student aide titles to the class titles for school personnel. Those new titles are:

  • AIDE V: Special Education Assistant Teacher- Temporary Authorization
  • AIDE V: Special Education Assistant Teacher
  • AIDE VI: Behavioral Support Assistant Teacher- Temporary Authorization
  • AIDE VI: Behavioral Support Assistant Teacher

The bill passed out of the committee and will now be sent to the House Floor.

The Senate Education Committee also met today to discuss SB 661. This bill would replace the minimum minutes of instructional time required per day with a requirement for an average of five hours per day throughout the instructional term. It would also require that public notice for hearings about a county’s school calendar be posted in the newspaper and on the county board’s website. The bill passed out of the committee and will now be sent to the floor.

The Senate Judiciary Committee met today and took up SB 616. This bill contains a number of provisions that are of concern to WVEA. They include:

  • New language allows the prevailing party in an appeal to the Circuit or Supreme Court to recover court costs and reasonable attorney’s fees from the opposing party for the appeal to the court. Previously this was limited to the grievant recovering charges.
  • The proposed language states that “When the grievant has been discharged, suspended without pay, or demoted or reclassified resulting in a loss of compensation or benefits, he or she may proceed directly to level two.” Currently the grievant can go directly to level three and waive levels one and two in those situations. This delays the decision for the grievant and extends the process unnecessarily.

The bill passed out of the committee and will now be sent to the Senate Floor.

There were several education-related bills on the Senate Floor today. SB 723 was on second reading/amendment stage. This bill would require the Department of Education to analyze data collected statewide on school disciplinary actions. Based on this data, they are then required to develop a program to address the number of disciplinary actions taken against students. The Department must also report their findings to the Legislative Oversight Commission on Education Accountability every two years beginning in 2022. No amendments were offered and it will be on third reading next week.

SB 691 was also on second reading today. This bill says alternative programs to prepare teachers adopted or established by the State Board of Education are separate from programs already established in code. No amendments were offered and it will be on third reading next week.

SJR 9 was on second reading. This is the proposed constitutional amendment that would give the Legislature the ability to lower personal property taxes. Personal property taxes account for over $380 million for county schools through the counties’ regular and excess levies. The Democrats tried to amend the bill so that only the Motor Vehicle tax could be changed but the amendment failed. It will be on third reading next week.

SB 837 would be dependent on the passage of SJR 9 as it will eliminate the manufacturing and inventory taxes and automobile personal property tax over six years. This bill also establishes the replacement fund to replace the money lost in SJR 9. This would include a .5% sales tax increase, raising the tax on cigarettes from $1.20 per 20 cigarettes to $2.00, raising the tax on other tobacco products from 12% of the wholesale price to 50%, and raising the tax on vaping products from 7.5 cents per milliliter to $1.00 per milliliter.

One amendment was proposed for this bill. Senator Takubo amended the bill to change the vaping tax increase from $1.00 per milliliter to 50% of the wholesale price. The amendment was adopted and the bill will be on third reading/passage next week.

On first reading today was SB 38. This bill says that county boards may offer students in grades 9 and up a social studies elective in sacred texts or comparative religions. It will be on second reading next week.

SB 614 was also on first reading. This is a follow-up to a bill passed last year. During the 2019 session, legislators passed a bill that created the Safe School Fund and required that all special education classrooms have cameras. Although that bill was signed into law last year, there was not enough funding for every school in the state to install the cameras. SB 614 would require the WV Department of Education to allocate funding for the Safe Schools Fund based on the remaining need for video cameras in each district until all districts are in compliance. Once all districts have cameras in every special education classroom, then the distribution of funds will go back to normal (dividing total amount of appropriation by total number of public schools). It will be on second reading next week.

The House also had several bills on the floor today. SB 623 was on third reading and passed by a vote of 98-0. This bill allows noncitizens of the U.S. to be eligible for a certificate to teach or an alternative program teacher certificate. The bill will is effective from passage.

HB 4408 was on third reading and passed by a vote of 98-0. The purpose of this bill is to require the State Board of Education to develop and implement an online database for the employment of school principals, administrators and central office staff. It will now be sent to the Senate.

HB 4737 was also on third reading and passed by a vote of 96-0. The bill says that if a student is unable to complete the FAFSA due to extenuating family circumstances, as determined by the vice chancellor for administration in consultation with the student’s high school, will not affect the student’s eligibility for state financial aid. It will now be sent to the Senate.

HB 3127 was on second reading. This is the House version of the Tim Tebow bill. The bill would allow home-schooled students to participate in secondary extracurricular and interscholastic activities. There are some requirements of the Tebow student written in the bill including: demonstrating satisfactory evidence of academic progress for one year; be enrolled in at least one virtual course; comply with the disciplinary rules of the SSAC and the county board; and agrees to obey all rules of the SSAC parental consents, physical exams and vaccinations. No amendments were made and it will be on third reading next week.

On first reading today was HB 4780. This bill would allow the county boards of education to offer students in grades 9 and up the following classes:

  1. An elective social studies course on the Hebrew Scriptures, Old Testament of the Bible;
  2. An elective social studies course on the New Testament of the Bible; or
  3. An elective social studies course on the Hebrew Scriptures and the New Testament of the Bible.

The bill requires the State Board of Education to include course standards in the program of studies for West Virginia schools, including the teacher qualifications and required professional development. The bill will be on second reading next week. A public hearing has been scheduled for this bill on Monday February 24 at 9 AM.


February 20, 2020

As the end of the session gets closer, more and more bills are moving each day. Several bills were on the floor of the Senate today. SB 291 was on third reading and passed by a vote of 34-0. It would require PEIA to treat behavioral/mental health and substance abuse treatment equally to medical and surgical treatment. The bill will now be sent to the House.

SB 691 was on first reading. This bill says alternative programs to prepare teachers adopted or established by the State Board of Education are separate from programs already established in code. It will be on second reading/amendment stage tomorrow.

SB 723 was also on first reading. This bill would require the Department of Education to analyze data collected statewide on school disciplinary actions. Based on this data, they are then required to develop a program to address the number of disciplinary actions taken against students. The Department must also report their findings to the Legislative Oversight Commission on Education Accountability every two years beginning in 2022. It will be on second reading tomorrow.

SJR 9 was on first reading today. This is the proposed constitutional amendment that would give the Legislature the ability to lower personal property taxes. Personal property taxes account for over $380 million for county schools through the counties’ regular and excess levies. An amendment to the state constitution requires a 2/3 vote in both the Senate and House and a majority vote by the public. It will be on second reading tomorrow.

SB 837 was also on first reading. This is the bill that originated in the Senate Finance Committee  on Monday. This bill would be dependent on the passage of SJR 9 as it will eliminate the manufacturing and inventory taxes and automobile personal property tax over six years. This bill also establishes the replacement fund to replace the money lost in SJR 9. This would include a .5% sales tax increase, raising the tax on cigarettes from $1.20 per 20 cigarettes to $2.00, raising the tax on other tobacco products from 12% of the wholesale price to 50%, and raising the tax on vaping products from 7.5 cents per milliliter to $1.00 per milliliter. The bill will be on second reading tomorrow.

Over in the House, SB 623 was on second reading/amendment stage. This bill allows noncitizens of the U.S. to be eligible for a certificate to teach or an alternative program teacher certificate. No amendments were offered and it will be on third reading tomorrow.

HB 4408 was on second reading and also had no amendments. The purpose of this bill is to require the State Board of Education to develop and implement an online database for the employment of school principals, administrators and central office staff. It will be on third reading tomorrow.

Also on second reading today was HB 4737. The bill says that if a student is unable to complete the FAFSA due to extenuating family circumstances, as determined by the vice chancellor for administration in consultation with the student’s high school, will not affect the student’s eligibility for state financial aid. No amendments were made and it will be on third reading tomorrow.

HB 3127 was on first reading today. This is the House version of the Tim Tebow bill. The bill would allow home-schooled students to participate in secondary extracurricular and interscholastic activities. There are some requirements of the Tebow student written in the bill including: demonstrating satisfactory evidence of academic progress for one year; be enrolled in at least one virtual course; comply with the disciplinary rules of the SSAC and the county board; and agrees to obey all rules of the SSAC parental consents, physical exams and vaccinations. It will be on second reading tomorrow.

The Senate Education Committee met this afternoon with a full agenda. First up was SB 750. This bill would require the county boards of education to develop and adopt an Extended Learning Opportunities policy that includes alternative educational opportunities for elective course credit that recognizes learning opportunities outside of the traditional classroom. Non-profits, businesses, parents and teachers may apply and submit proposals for these opportunities. The bill passed out of the committee and will now be sent to the Senate Floor.

SB 775 would require at least two water bottle filling stations be included in newly built and renovated schools. The bill passed out of the committee and will now be sent to the floor.

There were also two originating bills discussed in the Senate Education Committee today. The first originating bill would allow county boards of education to use alternative assessments such as the ACT. This bill was laid over to a future date.

The second originating bill would require the State Superintendent to create the Behavior Interventionalist Program. The program would run for five years in two counties. The state superintendent would use the following criteria when choosing the two counties: counties with a high number of students with an IEP, high number of students with behavior issues and the resources available to hire and train someone for this position. The chosen counties then may create a new position titled Behavior Interventionalist that would be an at-will employee. The county board would designate this position as either professional or service personnel.

An amendment was made to the bill that struck the language that made the position at-will. It also said that a committee consisting of principals, teachers, classroom aids and teacher organizations will convene to decide on the requirements for the position. The amended bill passed out of the committee and will now be sent to the floor.

The House Education Committee also met today to discuss an originating bill there. Their originating bill deals with calculating the net enrollment for homeschool students who participate in public school extracurricular events (per the Tim Tebow bill). The bill says those students who are enrolled in at least one virtual class will count at .30% in the funding formula which equals about $700 per student. It passed out of the committee and will now go to the House Finance Committee. 


February 19, 2020

Today started in the Senate Floor session where SB 291 was still on second reading today after being laid over yesterday. It would require PEIA to treat behavioral/mental health and substance abuse treatment equally to medical and surgical treatment. No amendments were made and it will be on third reading/passage tomorrow.

SB 652 was on third reading today and passed by a vote of 34-0. This bill would allow the School Building Authority to look at a contractor’s experience, past performance, violations and other things before granting a contract. It would also allow them to suspend a contract if they feel a contractor is not meeting their requirements. It will now be sent to the House.

In the House SB 623 was on first reading. This bill allows noncitizens of the U.S. to be eligible for a certificate to teach or an alternative program teacher certificate. It will be on second reading/amendment stage tomorrow.

HB 4408 was on first reading today.  The purpose of this bill is to require the State Board of Education to develop and implement an online database for the employment of school principals, administrators and central office staff. It will be on second reading tomorrow.

HB 4737 was also on first reading today. The bill says that if a student is unable to complete the FAFSA due to extenuating family circumstances, as determined by the vice chancellor for administration in consultation with the student’s high school, will not affect the student’s eligibility for state financial aid. It will be on second reading tomorrow.

The Senate Judiciary Committee met this afternoon to discuss SB 38. This bill is a companion bill to HB 4780 which began moving on the House today. The original bill would allow the county boards of education to offer students in grades 9 and up the following classes:

  1. An elective social studies course on the Hebrew Scriptures, Old Testament of the Bible;
  2. An elective social studies course on the New Testament of the Bible; or
  3. An elective social studies course on the Hebrew Scriptures and the New Testament of the Bible.

However, Senator Baldwin made an amendment that changed the bill entirely. Instead of the language stated above, the bill now says that county boards may offer students in grades 9 and up a social studies elective in sacred texts or comparative religions. This amended version of the bill passed out of the committee and will now be sent to the Senate Floor. 

The Senate Finance Committee took up SB 614. This is a follow-up to a bill passed last year. During the 2019 session, legislators passed a bill that created the Safe School Fund and required that all special education classrooms have cameras. Although that bill was signed into law last year, there was not enough funding for every school in the state to install the cameras. SB 614 would require the WV Department of Education to allocate funding for the Safe Schools Fund based on the remaining need for video cameras in each district until all districts are in compliance. Once all districts have cameras in every special education classroom, then the distribution of funds will go back to normal (dividing total amount of appropriation by total number of public schools). The bill passed out of the committee and will now be sent to the Senate Floor.

The House Education Committee also met this afternoon to discuss several bills. HB 2897 deals with speeding restrictions in school zones. It would make it optional for school zone flashing beacons to be active when students are present at a school for student activities occurring outside of a school’s regular hours. The bill passed out of the committee and will now be sent to the House Floor.

HB 4780 was also discussed in the committee. This bill would allow the county boards of education to offer students in grades 9 and up the following classes:

  1. An elective social studies course on the Hebrew Scriptures, Old Testament of the Bible;
  2. An elective social studies course on the New Testament of the Bible; or
  3. An elective social studies course on the Hebrew Scriptures and the New Testament of the Bible.

The bill requires the State Board of Education to include course standards in the program of studies for West Virginia schools, including the teacher qualifications and required professional development. The bill passed out of the committee and will now be sent to the House Floor. A public hearing has been scheduled for this bill on Monday February 24 at 9 AM.