Legalities

October 24, 2017 - Volume 37 Issue 11

Legalities

Roger Hanshaw

By Roger Hanshaw, Esq.

Q: House Bill 2711 that was passed by the legislature earlier this year created the County Superintendents’ Advisory Council and established four geographic regions to carry out the work of the Council.  The Bill also authorized the formation of educational services cooperatives (ESC’s) in West Virginia.  How do these two entities work together, and are the four regions associated with the Advisory Council related to the formation of ESC’s?

A: In short, the four quadrants associated with the County Superintendents’ Advisory Council have nothing whatsoever to do with the formation of ESCs in West Virginia.  House Bill 2711 was a broad-reaching piece of legislation that touched on several aspects of public education in West Virginia. Its various components are all free-standing provision, and the fact that both the Advisory Council and the ESC’s were authorized by the same bill does nothing to tie these two things together.

The provisions of House Bill 2711 creating the County Superintendents’ Advisory Council make this Council a required entity.  The bill mandates that the 55 counties be divided among four geographic quadrants.  However, this division is for purposes of facilitating the work of the Advisory Council only.  These quadrants have no impact on other areas of county board operations.  Moreover, the quadrants themselves will have no legal existence outside of the requirements of House Bill 2711.  No new entities will be formed, and these quadrants will only hold meetings for the purposes associated with the Advisory Council.

ESCs, on the other hand, can be formed by any two or more counties that choose to work together to realize any of the benefit that and ESC might provide (purchasing, staff sharing, facility sharing, etc.).  While it is possible that all the counties in an Advisory Council quadrant might come together for form a large ESC, nothing in House Bill 2711 requires that.  In fact, the Bill specifically points out that “[n]otwithstanding the geographic quadrants [. . .], school systems may enter into cooperative agreements with any school system in the state.” 

The full implementation of House Bill 2711 is not yet complete, and as county boards work to achieve the benefits of this bill, it is clear that many questions still must be answered.  However, the question of how the quadrants envisioned by House Bill 2711 work together with ESC’s can be answered very clearly:  they don’t.   The quadrants are a free-standing legal requirement.  ESCs, if they are formed at all, are simply authorized for those counties that wish to pursue them.  Both trains are running on entirely separate tracks with no intersection in sight.

Editor's Note:  Hanshaw is a Special Council for Bowles Rice LLP (Charleston). Hanshaw concentrates his legal practice on the environmental and technical issues that arise in business transactions, as well as regulatory compliance matters and litigation for a diverse client base. Additionally, he is a member of the West Virginia House of Delegates, representing District 33 (Calhoun, Clay and Gilmer Counties). He is a Professional Registered Parliamentarian – highest credential available from the National Association of Parliamentarians.