FAIRMONT – At least one Marion County legislator will have a seat at the table in the run up to the April 30 Special Session called by Gov. Jim Justice.
Sen. Roman Prezioso(D-Marion) was named Monday to the West Virginia Board of Education’s committee on school finance and funding.
Members of the committee include stakeholders and officials of public education, as well as three representatives from the West Virginia Senate and three representatives from the West Virginia House of Delegates. The committee is scheduled to meet at 10 a.m. in Charleston to discuss education funding.
“When you look at school funding, it’s not a complicated process,” Prezioso said. “But just aggregating the data and seeing how the money goes to certain places in education becomes complicated because there are so many things involved.”
According to a press release from the West Virginia Department of Education, today’s meeting will include officials from the State Board of Education, representatives from the West Virginia Association of School Administrators, the American Federation of Teachers, the West Virginia Education Association, an elementary school principal, a high school principal and the West Virginia Department of Education’s Office of School Finance.
As a former educator himself, Prezioso believes it is important to have these leaders involved in the discussion to get the full perspective of what education betterment means.
“You’ve got personnel issues with both professional personnel and service personnel,” he said. “The next thing is the benefit system with insurance and health benefits and retirement benefits. As you move down you can have maintenance issues, you can have bus issues.”
For this reason, the leaders of the committee chose to involve lawmakers alongside those who work directly in education and face these issues daily.
“We decided it would be beneficial to include representatives from the legislature to participate on the finance committee as we work to consider the funding formula and outline ideas for improving education in West Virginia,” said Tom Campbell, chair of the committee.
In years past, the committee’s focus has been to advocate for schools and teachers to receive the necessary resources to do their jobs effectively. The committee has considered issues such as teacher pay, retirement and benefits and the school funding formula.
Gov. Justice has called for committees to meet on April 29-30; May 20; June 17-18; July 22-23; Sept. 23-24; Nov. 18-19; Dec. 16-17; Jan. 6-7, 2020 on up to Jan. 8, 2020, the first day of the 2020 regular session.
Although the governor had still not set a date for when the Special Session on education will begin, Prezioso is hoping to get more information after meeting with the school finance committee.
“It’s fluid, there is always room for improvement,” Prezioso said. “But the basic concepts, it’s going to be hard to get around that. It’ll probably open some eyes.”