The Times West Virginian

West Virginia

March 13, 2013

Senate panel endorses education bill with minor changes

CHARLESTON — Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin saw his proposed overhaul of public schools clear its first legislative hurdle Tuesday, when the Senate Education Committee endorsed the bill with modest changes to language addressing teacher hiring and the school calendar.

Advanced to Senate Finance on a non-unanimous voice vote, the bill would now also require the Department of Education to cut personnel spending by 5 percent during each of the next two budget years. The committee’s action followed a morning picket by a few dozen people from the teacher and service worker organizations outside the Capitol. Those groups remain opposed to the bill’s key provisions.

“They made a few things around the fringes a little better, but the real sticking points are still in the bill,” said President Judy Hale of the American Federation of Teachers-West Virginia.

The committee’s amendment arose from several days of closed-door meetings with representatives from these groups as well as Tomblin or his top aides.

“The governor is pleased with the Senate Education Committee substitute of the bill,” Tomblin spokeswoman Amy Shuler Goodwin said. “Many hours of discussion with stakeholders provided for a better bill.”

Tomblin had proposed ensuring 180 days of student instruction annually — already mandated by law but rarely reached mostly because of snow days — by freeing up 12 days now set aside for other uses. The committee’s amendment reserves time within those 12 days for teachers to hold two-hour faculty senate meetings at least four times once school begins. It replaces limits on teacher planning periods with a study due Dec. 31 on the topic.

Lawmakers also removed language that counted attending athletic tournaments and playoffs as instructional days. Tuesday’s changes further make clear that the calendar includes seven paid holidays, and allows counties to add days to their calendars to make up for canceled days.

Senate Education kept the governor’s proposed rewrite of teacher hiring and transfer practices mostly intact. The bill still gives principals a say on hiring, but now forbids them from recommending relatives. Another Tuesday change restores a teacher’s right to count seniority built up within the county when facing a transfer within a school.

The governor had proposed allowing county school boards to repost job vacancies repeatedly to attract qualified candidates. The committee limited that to just one reposting for classroom teaching positions, and then only if fewer than three people applied the first time.

The amended bill would still invite Teach for America into West Virginia classrooms, but no longer identifies that national nonprofit program by name. The committee also limited the temporary teaching certificates the bill would offer program participants to middle and high schools as well as to subjects and areas of the state with critical shortages..

The committee rejected attempts by Sen. Daniel Hall, a Wyoming County Democrat, to remove the revised Teach for America provisions completely and to scale back the teacher hiring and school calendar changes.

The West Virginia Education Association, which represents teachers and administrators, opposes much of the governor’s bill. The rival AFT-WV and its allied group, the state School Service Personnel Association, object to most of it as well. The three united Tuesday for a morning information picket outside the Senate side of the Capitol.

Some protesters carried signs targeting Tomblin, a Democrat, and state Schools Superintendent James Phares. Their ranks included John Estep, who retired after more than 22 years as a Nicholas County classroom teacher. Now active with AFT-WV, Estep denounced the proposed changes to seniority’s role in hiring and transfers as well as the Teach for America provisions.

“We need to get some real educational reform and not this bologna that they’re putting in (Senate Bill) 359,” Estep said. “We’re tired of the students of West Virginia getting crapped on every time the Legislature meets. And that’s what this bill does.”

Hale said the groups will picket outside the state Board of Education when it meets Wednesday. Hale also said opponents will focus on opposing the bill in the House Education Committee.

“I think we’ve done all of the work we can do in the Senate to make the bill better,” Hale said.

Chaired by a retired teacher and lifetime WVEA member, House Education has previously proved a challenging hurdle for both Tomblin and his predecessor. But the 2012 election changed the committee’s makeup while increasing the ranks of its minority Republicans to 11 of 24 seats. At least half the committee or their spouses are current or former educators, however.

1
Text Only
West Virginia
  • Woman convicted in teen’s slaying moved

    A Monongalia County teenager has been transferred to a state prison to complete her sentence for the slaying of another teenager.
    The Lakin Correctional Center near Point Pleasant said Friday Rachel Shoaf has been booked at the Division of Corrections prison. Shoaf turned 18 last month and had been held in a juvenile facility.

    July 26, 2014

  • Board suspends clinic operator’s license

    A West Virginia board Friday suspended the license of the operator of a pain management clinic where investigators found syringes were being reused. It was the second disciplinary action involving the doctor’s license within a decade.

    July 26, 2014

  • Candidates: Leave global warming debate to scientists

    Two West Virginia congressional hopefuls said during their first candidate forum matchup Thursday that the global warming debate is better left to scientists.
    Democrat Nick Casey and Republican Alex Mooney added that other countries should step up in reducing carbon emissions.

    July 24, 2014

  • Lawsuit filed over Dirty Girl Mud Run

    A lawsuit has been filed against the producers of a run that was canceled in Charleston in which participants were told they wouldn’t be issued refunds.

    July 24, 2014

  • WVa. man sues GM over wife's death

    A West Virginia man has filed a lawsuit against General Motors Corp., claiming a defective ignition switch in a Chevrolet Cobalt caused a 2006 accident that killed his pregnant wife.

    July 24, 2014

  • Feds commit to health studies on spilled chemical

    After largely dismissing the possibility of long-term health problems, federal officials will conduct more studies on chemicals that spilled into West Virginia’s largest drinking water supply in January.
    In the next two months, federal health officials are also heading back to West Virginia.

    July 24, 2014

  • Park Service assesses impact of W.Va. attractions

    Four National Park Service attractions in West Virginia drew a total of 1.5 million visitors last year.

    July 23, 2014

  • This weekend's 'Dirty Girl' race canceled

    Organizers of a Charleston running event that was canceled for this weekend says it won’t issue refunds.

    July 23, 2014

  • Reporter heard truck backfiring, not gunshot

    Similar sounds in different circumstances create different reactions. That is so for WVVA reporter Annie Moore, who last Monday told police someone fired a gun at her while she was shooting file footage in the area of a recent murder.

    July 19, 2014

  • Cornhole champions being decided in Charleston

    Cornhole, the strange-sounding game made popular in backyards and at football tailgate parties, is taking on a serious side this week.
    The American Cornhole Organization will crown its world champions as about 380 competitors from 17 states vie for $10,000 in prize money in singles and doubles events.

    July 19, 2014

House Ads
Featured Ads