WVEA Legislative Update

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WVEA Legislative Update #6 – 2/15/19 ( PDF of Update #6)

SB 451 passes the House

After nearly 10 hours of debate and amendments, on Thursday the House passed SB 451. The bill that leaves the House is very different from the bill that passed the Senate. Here are a few of the major differences.

The House bill completely eliminates the sections of the Senate bill that referenced: pay/extracurricular events during a work stoppage; the elimination of payroll deduction; the non-severability clause; county administrators as at-will employees; unlimited reposting of job vacancies; and ESA’s.

Both the Senate version and House version contain these items in some form:

• Salary increases of $2,120 for teachers and $1,150 for ESP.

• $250 tax credit for teachers. (House bill includes service personnel also.)

• Sick leave incentive if an employee misses 4 days or less. (Senate is teacher only and $500. House is all full-time employees and $1,000.)

• Local board has the right to increase regular levy rates if local voters approve. (House says that vote must occur during a general election.)

• Changes to local share calculation resulting in additional $24.8 million for 38 counties.

• 1,400 student minimum for the state aide formula – provides extra money ($10.9 million) to 11 counties who have less than 1,400 students enrolled.

• Formula change to increase in the number of professional student support personnel (counselors, social workers, psychologists, etc.). This will mean nearly 400 new positions statewide at a cost of nearly $24 million.

• A section outlining student transfers across county lines. (House added sections on WVSSAC rules and pre-existing agreements between counties.)

• Flexibility for county salary supplements.

• Bonus for those teaching math 60% of the time – 3 steps on the salary scale. Also, a $2,000 onetime bonus for those seeking additional certification in math and teaching it 60% of the time.

The following items are in the House bill and not referenced in the Senate bill:

• $5 million for Innovation Zones.

• Requirement for a trained law enforcement officer in each school.

• Requiring that seniority ties in certification areas be broken by a random drawing within 30 days of employment and the outcome remains throughout the employee’s employment.

• Added language to 18A-2-8 that says an employee can be suspended/dismissed who’s been found to have committed abuse or a misdemeanor with a rational nexus between the conduct and performance.

These items are included in both bills but are in very different forms:

• Charter schools.

o Senate – unlimited number both brick/mortar and virtual; creation of a Charter Commission to govern charters and hear appeals; no selection parameters on schools

o House – limits to 2/ no virtual charters; must be converted from an existing public school that is a Title 1 low performing elementary school; before conversion can occur both a majority of the employees and a majority of the parents must vote in favor of the change; no charter board – county BOE oversees; no appeal process if charter request is rejected; the school to convert must take the kids who currently attend and all students who are in that attendance zone; employees and students who do not wish to attend/work in the school may transfer;

• Seniority related to RIF/transfer

o Senate – strikes the current language and adds the word ‘qualifications’ in place of seniority. It then outlines that the qualifications to be used are those in the hiring statute – certification, experience in the certification area, coursework/ degree level, national board certification, relevant specialized training, past performance evaluations, seniority, other measures, principal recommendation and faculty senate recommendation.

o House – uses certification and seniority. It adds the exception that if the person’s most recent evaluation is unsatisfactory only then does the ‘qualifications’ used in the hiring statute come into play.

Clearly, there are some similarities and some huge differences between the bills. It is highly unlikely that either chamber will accept the other’s bill as it currently exists.

On Monday the Senate will receive the bill and Senator Carmichael’s comments indicate that the bill may once again follow a non-traditional path.

Instead of the bill going to a conference committee, it appears as though the Senate may try to amend portions of the bill and send it back to the House for passage. Most likely the Senate will try to restore some of the charter school language from their bill and restore ESAs to the bill.

You need to contact your delegates who have supported us on these issues and ask them to vote against a bill sent back to them by the Senate with any changes in the ESA or Charter School language. Contact them over the weekend and again the first part of the week.

Other bills moving this week

HB 2100 – school-based mental and behavioral health services. This bill requires the WVDE to develop a pilot program to provide mental health services instead of suspending students for disruptive behavior. The bill passed the House Health and Human Resources committee and will now go to House Education for further consideration.

HB 2554 – Open enrollment. This bill passed the house this week and allows students to transfer from one school district to another. This bill’s language mirrors the language regarding transfers in SB 451.

HB 2688 – air-conditioned buses. This bill requires air conditioning on all new buses purchased after 2019. This bill passed House Education and now heads to House Finance.

SB 14 – Farm-to-School grant program. This bill creates a special revenue account in the Dept of Agriculture to provide grants to encourage public schools to buy local. The bill passed the Senate and now heads to the House Committee on Agriculture.

SB 26 – participation in TRS for educational services cooperatives. Education Service Cooperatives are the replacements to RESA’s. This bill allows their employees to participate in TRS.

SB 86 – feminine hygiene products in schools. This bill passed the Senate Health and Human Resources and would require school boards to provide free feminine hygiene products to girls in grades 6-12 who do not otherwise have access to them.

SB 267 – computer science instruction. This was the bill Governor Justice mentioned in the State of the State address to adopt computer science instruction in our schools. The bill passed the House on a 97-0 vote and now heads to the governor’s desk.

Bills to watch

SB 630 – PEIA 80/20 changes. This is the bill that the PEIA Task Force asked to be submitted. It was introduced on Friday and has Senators Plymale and Hardesty as sponsors. It will be sent to the Senate Pensions Committee. It provides flexibility in the 80/20 statute. The Governor’s extra appropriation of money to PEIA does not require a bill but is part of the governor’s budget appropriation and is included in his budget.

HB 2229 – adding violations of law upon which a public servant’s retirement plan may be forfeited. This bill adds to the actions that are reasons for denying a pension due to less than honorable service. This bill could impact TRS participants. The bill passed House Pensions and is headed to the House Judiciary Committee.

HB 3063 – tax credit for home/private schoolers. This bill would provide a $500 tax credit for education expenses to parents that homeschool their children or send them to private school. The bill has been assigned to House Education and is expected to be taken up on Monday