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March 9, 2012 - Volume 32 Issue 18

 

“Journalism is literature in a hurry.” – Matthew Arnold (1822-1888), British poet and cultural critic.


By Jim Wallace

A plan to pay off OPEB liability, a new system for evaluating teachers and a countywide Innovation Zone for the Reconnecting McDowell project stand out among lawmakers and others working on education bill this year as the Legislature’s 60-day regular session heads for an end Saturday night at midnight.

Lawmakers passed a bill to pay off West Virginia’s $5 billion liability for OPEB – other post-employment benefits – so early in the session that it now seems like a distant memory for some legislators and lobbyists. The bill, which Gov. Tomblin already has signed into law, sets up a process to pay off the liability, which largely consists of health care benefits promised to current and future retirees from public sector jobs. It also relieves county school boards from the responsibility for carrying much of that liability on their books, something board members have been seeking for several years.

“I think the OPEB bill was major in that it took the liability off the county boards of education.” WVEA President Dale Lee

“I think the OPEB bill was major in that it took the liability off the county boards of education,” Dale Lee, president of the West Virginia Education Association, said. “It identified cost-containment measures to help offset some of the costs that will go to retirees.”

Judy Hale, president of the American Federation of Teachers-West Virginia, said the OPEB bill was the result of much hard work over several years.

“We’re happy to put that behind us, because every time we go to a county board of education for more computers in our classrooms or a local pay raise or whatever, we’ve always had that albatross: Well, we’ve got to save money for the OPEB liability,” she said. “That’s a chapter that I think we can close, so that should free up some money in these counties so that they can do some of the things that need to be done.”

Bob Brown, executive director of the West Virginia School Service Personnel Association, also expressed relief that the Legislature finally dealt with OPEB this session. He hopes that will make lawmakers more likely to consider salary increases for school employees in the years ahead.

“One of the things we have had to deal with here as we come and speak to legislators about salary increases or increases in benefits is the fact that they’ve had to deal with this huge unfunded liability,” Brown said. “Consequently, when we come and meet, we should be not paying for the sins of the past but looking for what we can do to enhance employees’ benefits and salaries in the future.”

“The OPEB bill would be the number one bill to the county boards of education.” – Sen. Donna Boley

Sen. Donna Boley, R-Pleasants, said passing the OPEB bill has helped make the session a good one for education. “The OPEB bill would be the number one bill to the county boards of education,” she said.

But Delegate Walter Duke, R-Berkeley, is not satisfied that the Legislature has done enough on OPEB. Although the bill that is now law relieves school districts of responsibility for the portion of the liability that correlates to personnel hired within the School Aid Formula, the school boards are still responsible for liability related to employees hired outside of the formula, and that’s not good enough for Duke, who is the leading Republican on the House Education Committee. 

“I think you could make a good argument that a lot of that other OPEB debt that still lies on the shoulders of the school boards shouldn’t be there. It should be the state’s responsibility, because the state created that entire monster.” – Delegate Walter Duke

“My position is, it was never a county debt to start with,” he said. “All of that OPEB came from what this body did over the years that related to retirement systems and health care. All of it came from the state of West Virginia. None of it came from any of the 55 county boards. What we have agreed to do is to take back all of the OPEB debt from everybody in the formula. But counties have had to hire extra people over and above the formula because of unfunded federal mandates and unfunded state mandates, and along with those positions come some unfunded OPEB liabilities that we’re telling the counties they have to pick up, and I don’t think that’s right. I think you could make a good argument that a lot of that other OPEB debt that still lies on the shoulders of the school boards shouldn’t be there. It should be the state’s responsibility, because the state created that entire monster.”

However, Duke said, “I’m in a minority here on that position.”

 

McDowell County and teacher evaluation bills loom large.

House Education Chairwoman Mary Poling, D-Barbour, characterized the legislative session as “relatively moderately paced” for education issues.  She said the House spent much time on Gov. Tomblin’s education bills. Among them are the bill to revise the way professional educators are evaluated and one to establish a countywide Innovation Zone in McDowell County schools. The House and Senate approved different versions of each of those bills, but Poling said, “It looks like even though the House and Senate disagreed on some of the provisions that we will be able to come to an easy consensus on both those in conference. Of course, that’s no guarantee, but I have a sense from discussions we’ve been having that those will be resolved there in conference.”

Boley said she thought the Senate version of the teacher evaluation bill came out well, and she hopes “it works out for everybody.”

Senate Education Chairman Bob Plymale, D-Wayne, said he also is pleased with the evaluation bill and the McDowell County bill, as well as what is ahead for lawmakers. “All in all, I think that we’re preparing really to look at the audit very thoroughly during the interims and there will be a lot of work that comes from that,” he said. The results of the education efficiency audit commissioned by Gov. Tomblin came out too late for lawmakers to deal with them extensively during the regular sessions, which is why Plymale and other lawmakers want to consider them in the monthly legislative interim meetings they will hold leading up to next year’s regular session. Some of them have said the Innovation Zone in McDowell County might be a good place to test out some of the audit’s recommendations.

Brown called the McDowell County Innovation Zone bill “the significant piece” of legislation coming out of the session. He said it would “give us an opportunity to try new and different things at a countywide level and then hopefully replicate those around the state. So I think that’s a very, very important initiative that looks like it is going to sail through.”

“We’ve had to do a lot of work on that to try to figure out how we do this public-private partnership from the ground up and give the employees the real voice in what goes on in the county as we try to improve not only education but the community as a whole.” – AFT-WV President Judy Hale

Hale called the Reconnecting McDowell bill and the teacher evaluation bill “exciting pieces of legislation” in what otherwise has been “a fairly uneventful session.”  Of course, her organization, the AFT, is the lead partner on the McDowell County bill, “and so we’ve had to do a lot of work on that to try to figure out how we do this public-private partnership from the ground up and give the employees the real voice in what goes on in the county as we try to improve not only education but the community as a whole,” she said.

Hale and other union officials also have worked closely on the evaluation bill as part of a task force that helped develop the bill over the last year and a half.

“We’ve got the pilots out there,” she said. “So it’s just been a matter of how you put that in code and roll it out to the rest of the state.  I think we’re going to be OK with that bill.”

Hallie Mason, Tomblin’s legislative director, said, “The governor is very pleased the teachers’ evaluation bill is about to be successful in conference, and we believe that we will get the McDowell County bill finished. Of course, as you know, that’s kind of a trial run for some of the education audit suggestions. So we look forward to working with McDowell County on that and then talking through the summer with the state of West Virginia about what was in the audit and how we can move forward together to improve student achievement in West Virginia.”

 

Salaries stay the same for another year.

The big disappointment for the union leaders representing teachers and other school employees is that the Legislature is not planning to give those workers any pay raises in the next fiscal year. Lee said low pay for teachers is one reason why the public school system reported more than 1,400 positions without teachers certified for those jobs this school year.

“If we don’t start addressing the core issues of salary, student truancy and absenteeism, and time to teach – those types of thing – if we don’t start addressing those then we’re really doing a disservice to the kids of West Virginia,” Lee said.

Hale said the union leaders were told from the beginning of the session there would be no money for pay raises, but she’s still disappointed about that.

“Our teachers and service personnel are really in desperate need of a pay raise because of the fact that we’re not competitive at all with our surrounding states,” she said. “As a result, our students are sitting in classrooms with teachers who are not certified in the field that they’re teaching. [There are] a lot of substitutes. Some students the first semester right here in Kanawha County had had as many as five substitutes in one science class. We feel that with the looming retirements that are coming up that this Legislature and the governor really have got to tackle that next year and figure out how we get certified teachers in the classrooms. While we haven’t been able to move on that, we did do a couple of bills on alternative certification, which is going to help some, but we’ve really got to attack the entire problem. So we look forward to doing that next year.”

Although Brown also would have liked to have seen some effort to improve pay for teachers and school service workers, he said, at least West Virginia is not cutting pay, benefits and positions for such workers as other states have been doing.

“If you look around the country and see what’s happening in other states, perhaps we all should be pleased we’re not all walking out of here with holes in the back of our pants from having things taken away from us. If you look around the country, West Virginia’s doing quite well given the economy.” – Bob Brown of WVSSPA

“If you look around the country and see what’s happening in other states, perhaps we all should be pleased we’re not all walking out of here with holes in the back of our pants from having things taken away from us,” he said. “If you look around the country, West Virginia’s doing quite well given the economy…. So we’re pretty blessed here in West Virginia despite the fact that we’re not going to send any money into the pockets of our members. We have been able to maintain the benefits and the salaries that they have.”

Even though the union leaders expressed hope that pay raises might be more likely next year, especially now that lawmakers have dealt with the OPEB liability, Mason indicated they shouldn’t get their hopes up too high.

“Certainly, the governor is interested in talking with folks about salaries, but we do have a significant Medicaid issue that we have got to get our hands around. That’s going to dominate the talk of next year’s budget. We’ll certainly be looking at that over the summer to see if we can get control so that there is a possibility of [raises] next year.” – Hallie Mason

“Certainly, the governor is interested in talking with folks about salaries, but we do have a significant Medicaid issue that we have got to get our hands around,” she said. “That’s going to dominate the talk of next year’s budget. We’ll certainly be looking at that over the summer to see if we can get control so that there is a possibility of [raises] next year.”

Senate Finance Chairman Roman Prezioso, D-Marion, said Thursday that lawmakers expect to have to deal with a $200 million funding gap in Medicaid next year.

 

Delegates want relief for certain counties.

Another issue that Duke said he was afraid might not be settled this year involves the local share money county school systems get through the School Aid Formula. The House wants to reverse a provision put into law several years ago, he said, but the Senate seems reluctant to go along. That provision would penalize counties where property tax assessments fall short of the standard.

Assessments are supposed to represent 60 percent of properties’ actual value, but there is a 10 percentage point leeway. However, Duke said, if the law is not changed, counties where assessments are not above 54 percent of actual value will be shorted on their local share money within a few years. He said low assessments could be the fault of county assessors or they could result from fast growth in certain areas.

“If you assess a house at $100,000 and it sells six months later for $120,000 because the demand was so high in the county, that’s going to throw your [assessments] below 54 percent if you have a lot of sales like that,” Duke said. “The state is, in effect, punishing the school system, which has no control over either the growth or whether or not the assessor is doing their job.”

Monongalia County and four other counties are below the 54 percent level now, he said. The counties in Duke’s home area of the Eastern Panhandle are in compliance right now, “but if we have another spike in housing prices like Morgantown has had, then that could be a problem for us as well down the road,” he said.

Poling also expressed concern that the Senate had not gone along with the House’s efforts to fix that problem.

 


By Jim Wallace

A bill to create a college and career readiness initiative that received unanimous approval in the Senate died quietly this week when a House Education subcommittee declined to move it forward. As one lobbyist said at the time, “It’s as dead as dead can be.”

Senate Bill 568 would have required the state Board of Education, the Higher Education Policy Commission and the Council for Community and Technical College Education collaborate to formally adopt uniform college and career readiness standards for English/language arts and math, as well as take other steps to support that overall goal. But it didn’t sit well with members of the subcommittee on the House side.

“It’s full of a lot of things that are futuristic in terms of Vision 2020 and blueprints for 2020.” – Delegate Stan Shaver

“It’s full of a lot of things that are futuristic in terms of Vision 2020 and blueprints for 2020,” Delegate Stan Shaver, D-Preston, said.

When Shaver, the subcommittee’s chairman, called on officials from the state Department of Education to explain why the bill might be needed, Robert Hull, an associate superintendent in the Division of Curriculum and Instructional Services, quickly pointed out that it was not legislation that the department had requested. He said the department already is working to make sure students are ready either to go to college or embark on careers after high school, and the department is working with the Higher Education Policy Commission to determine what the definition of college-ready should be.

As part of the new content standards, students will receive academic scores at each level culminating in eleventh grade, Hull said, and those scores will show whether they are meeting the standards to become ready for college.

Delegate Linda Sumner, R-Raleigh, asked what would happen under the bill if schools failed to meet the required level of accountability. Staff attorney Dave Mohr said that, just as happens now with accountability standards, a school that failed to meet them would be required to go through a plan of improvement.

But House Education Chairwoman Mary Poling, D-Barbour, noted that the state school board and the Education Department have adopted the Common Core standards. “As I understand those standards, they are career and college readiness standards themselves,” she said. Hull agreed that the Common Core standards are filled with college and career benchmarks. 

Poling also pointed out that the department plans to go to the Smarter Balance assessments, which are designed to assess career and college readiness, and the department has a plan in place for professional development. Hull said the department also embarked last year on a four-year professional development plan built around the Common Core standards. Poling added that the Vision 2020 bill the Legislature passed two years ago had references in code that align the public schools with post-secondary and workforce standards.

 

Department puts more emphasis on career options.

Kathi D’Antoni, an assistant state superintendent in the Division of Technical, Adult and Institutional Education, said the department also is making more effort to prepare non-college-bound students for the workforce. “I think we’re making great progress in that area, because we’re using measurements that are predictive of the career-tech rather than academic measures,” she said. “Every child has to be in the college and career readiness piece.”

“How many ninth-graders do you find that actually make that decision or change their minds throughout their high school careers? And if they do, what are their options and recourse?” – Delegate Amanda Pasdon

But Delegate Amanda Pasdon, R-Monongalia, expressed concern that students might be forced to choose their post-high school paths when they are too young. She asked, “How many ninth-graders do you find that actually make that decision or change their minds throughout their high school careers? And if they do, what are their options and recourse?”

But Hull said ninth-graders are not asked to make final decisions, just to start thinking about where they are headed. By the end of 10th grade, they should have some idea of which direction they are heading, he said.

Delegate Dave Pethtel, D-Wetzel, said he didn’t like the way Senate Bill 568 would hold school districts accountable for meeting readiness standards. “It looks to me like more work for people in the field,” he said.

Shaver questioned whether there is enough emphasis on preparing students for careers rather than just preparing them for college. “This idea of a seamless curriculum means that the high schools need to do what they can to align their curriculum with community and technical colleges so they can work together and cooperate hand-in-hand,” he said. Shaver added that statistics show two-year associate degrees can produce more jobs at as good pay or better pay than some four-year institutions.

Hull said the department’s emphasis in the past has not been enough on preparing students for careers, but the department has been working in the past year to establish a greater diversity of options.

 

Two-year colleges want students who are prepared better.

Jim Skidmore, chancellor of the community and technical college system, said, “College readiness is an important factor for us as well.” He noted that about 63 percent of students require some form of remedial classes when they get to college.

“When somebody’s coming out of high school to go to work, they need a certain level of math and communication skills, so career readiness and college readiness correlate very highly.” – Jim Skidmore

“Two or three different studies have indicated that what a student needs for career readiness and college readiness are very similar,” Skidmore said. “When somebody’s coming out of high school to go to work, they need a certain level of math and communication skills, so career readiness and college readiness correlate very highly.”

 

Issues in bill could be studied further

After all that discussion, no one on the subcommittee made a motion to send the bill back to the full House Education Committee. So that is when Senate Bill 568 died, but Poling doesn’t like saying that the subcommittee killed the bill.

“Expressing that as killing a bill means that we weren’t interested in college and career readiness, but I think it was well established in the subcommittee that what the department already was doing with Common Core standards and the assessment that would eventually accompany those as we adopt new standards – it’s called the Smarter Balance assessment – that the whole focus of those standards and of that assessment is already career and college readiness,” she said. “So then to put it in code as if that’s something separate from what we’re already doing, the subcommittee, I think, decided that this bill just wasn’t necessary.”

Although the Senate Education Committee put much work into the bill, Senate Education Chairman Bob Plymale, D-Wayne, said he wasn’t disappointed that it died on the House side. “At this point, I don’t get disappointed in these things,” he said. “What we don’t want to do is leave any child behind.”

Plymale said the bill developed from recommendations about what other states are doing to make sure that a high school diploma means a graduate is ready for college or a career. He said many of the concepts came from the Southern Regional Education Board’s Legislative Advisory Council on which he, Poling and two other members of the West Virginia Legislature serve.

“I thought it was a good bill. We passed it out of here, but they [in the House] have a different viewpoint on education sometimes.” – Sen. Bob Plymale

“I thought it was a good bill,” Plymale said. “We passed it out of here, but they [in the House] have a different viewpoint on education sometimes.”

When told that House Education Committee members thought the bill called for initiatives that already were being done, he said, “Everybody’s entitled to their opinion. We wouldn’t have spent numerous hours on it if I didn’t think it was important.”

When it became clear that Senate Bill 568 had died, Plymale’s committee passed a resolution calling for lawmakers to study college and career readiness issues over the next several months during their monthly interim legislative meetings. “I felt like it was important for us to get a resolution out to say that it is important and let’s start looking at it,” he said.

 


By Jim Wallace

The House of Delegates has approved a few key Senate-passed education bills, including those for the Reconnecting McDowell project and for establishing seamless curricula, but they’re not ready yet to go to Gov. Tomblin. The House made changes in the bills, so delegates and senators must work out the differences in their versions of the legislation.

On Senate Bill 436, the House made mainly technical changes, so it shouldn’t be hard for the House and Senate to settle on a common version of it. That bill’s purpose is to facilitate and encourage collaboration between the public school system and public higher education to promote programs of study and seamless curricula. The House approved its version Thursday on a vote of 99-0 with one member absent. It’s now up to the Senate to decide whether to accept the changes the House made.

The House also made changes in Senate Bill 371, the McDowell County bill, but the Senate refused to accept those changes, so the differences will have to be worked out in a conference committee. The bill would allow the formation of a countywide Innovation Zone, and McDowell County would have first dibs on creating such an Innovation Zone as part of the Reconnecting McDowell project that is designed to revitalize not only the school system but also the communities and economy of the county. The House approved its version of the bill on a 95-4 vote with one member absent. The four votes against the bill came from Republicans.

Another bill that the House approved with a few changes is Senate Bill 646. It would require the state school board to study issues involving examinations for the General Educational Development (GED) diploma. The company that provides those tests is switching to electronic versions with higher costs. The bill would have the state board study those costs and explore an option for pen-and-paper testing. The board’s deadline for filing its report with the Legislature would be July     1. The House approved the bill Thursday on a 99-0 vote with one member absent and is waiting to hear whether the Senate will accept the House changes.

 

Concussions bill gets close scrutiny from House committee.

The House is still working on Senate Bill 340, which would require the West Virginia Secondary School Activities Commission to propose legislative rules concerning the management of concussions and head injuries in youth sports. It is on track to pass out of the House on Saturday, but the House has made changes in the version approved by the Senate, so those differences would have to be worked out.

The bill was the subject of much debate in the House Education Committee this week. Delegate Marty Gearhart, R-Mercer, expressed concern about which officials involved in athletic contests would have the authority to decide whether players should be removed from those games because of suspicions they might have suffered concussion or other head injuries.

“If there’s a high school football team, and there’s a legitimate hit, and the opposing team’s coach determines that someone has had their bell rung and conveys that that would be a suspicion, then he would be required to be removed from the game?” Gearhart, who said he has officiated games, asked.

“That’s a legitimate concern,” staff attorney Dave Mohr said. “The bill doesn’t say who makes that judgment call or what training they have to do so.”

Gearhart offered an amendment to specify which individuals could cause a player to be removed from a game. They would be limited to those who officiate at games, licensed health care professionals and the head coach of a player’s team. “That would keep the opposing team from removing someone from the game for cause,” he said.

But Delegate David Perry, D-Fayette, opposed the amendment, saying that the SSAC has been health conscious in the past few years and could take care of such issues on its own.

“Sometimes, it’s awfully hard to keep that boy out when he’s the star player and all that.” – Delegate Brady Paxton

Delegate Brady Paxton, D-Putnam, opposed the amendment because he didn’t think game officials are knowledgeable enough about head injuries to decide whether a player should be removed. “I don’t think they would be qualified to remark on that,” he said. “Sometimes, it’s awfully hard to keep that boy out when he’s the star player and all that.”

But Delegate Joe Ellington, R-Mercer, spoke in favor of Gearhart’s amendment. “In sports where there aren’t any health care officials, I would imagine that those officiating the game or the head coach would have to make the decision,” he said, citing the example of someone on a swimming team who hit his head on the deck of the pool.

Delegate Tim Armstead, R-Kanawha, also supported the amendment and said, “If you don’t put some parameters as to who is the person suspecting this, you are just asking for…problems down the road as to whether a person should go on to play. Obviously, that student is going to want to continue to play. That student is going to want to be in that game.”

Further support for the amendment came from Delegate Pete Sigler, R-Nicholas, who said, “On a football field, the official is going to be the closest person to that injured player.”

In closing the debate, Gearhart said he agreed with Perry and Paxton that game officials are “minimally trained” in determining when an athlete has a concussion.

“That is the reason though that there are three individuals that can create this removal from the game: the official, a health care professional or the head coach, all of which are involved in an athletic contest,” he said. “The official, frankly, is in charge of the contest from 30 minutes before the game until the final whistle blows. He has the final authority on what happens on the field. He’s not the only one that can do this. If the head coach appears to be too competitive and unwilling to remove someone from the game and there is not an athletic trainer available, this does create a stopgap for someone who is impartial and is observing and is aware of the symptoms of concussion that can make that decision.”

“Most officials, quite frankly, will stay away from that decision unless it becomes painfully obvious that there’s a circumstance of player safety, which is their first task.” – Delegate Marty Gearhart

Gearhart added, “Most officials, quite frankly, will stay away from that decision unless it becomes painfully obvious that there’s a circumstance of player safety, which is their first task.”

The committee narrowly rejected Gearhart’s amendment with most of the votes in favor of it coming from Republicans.

The committee approved an amendment from Perry to add chiropractors and physical therapists to the health care providers who could decide whether to remove an athlete from play.

 


By Jim Wallace

A few education bills got through the Senate this week and are ready for Gov. Tomblin to decide whether to sign them, while two more are waiting for the Senate and House to resolve their differences over them.

One bill that has gone to a conference committee to work out differences is Tomblin’s bill to change the evaluation process for professional educators. House Bill 4236 also would institute a comprehensive teacher mentoring system.

The Senate is waiting to hear whether the House will accept the changes the Senate made in House Bill 4119, which would put a definition in state code for the position of athletic director. The Senate approved its version of the bill Thursday on a 30-0 vote with four members absent.

Bills that have gotten through both the House and the Senate include:

  • House Bill 4583, which would change deadlines for termination, resignation and transfer of school personnel;
  • House Bill 4125, which would correct the date of the school year from 2012-2013 to 2013-14 for each school to begin sending an annual notice to the parents and guardians alerting them to the existence of the school’s crisis response plan and of their ability to review a redacted copy at the offices of the county board; and
  • House Bill 4299, which would permit a county school board to use bus operators regularly employed by a different county board to operate buses leased by the county, if bus operators from the first county are unavailable. This is aimed at providing bus drivers to work with the new Boy Scouts of America facility being built in Fayette County.

Two other bills were ready for their final reading and possible passage in the Senate today. One is House Bill 4655, which would provide the same due process rights to bus drivers that teachers already have in personnel decisions. The other is House Bill 4101, which would establish a teacher-in-residence program to help get some students learning to be teachers into teaching jobs sooner. The Senate made a few changes in each bill, so they would still have to go back to the House for concurrence in those changes or a conference committee to work out the differences.

Yet another bill was scheduled to have its second of three readings in the Senate today and could be approved by the Senate on Saturday. It is House Bill 4072, which would eliminate a general provision requiring county boards of education to meet on the first Monday of July of every year. If it would get through the Legislature and be signed by the governor, county boards would have to meet on the first Monday of July only in even-numbered years, when there are school board elections.

Two other House bills got stuck in the Senate Education Committee and have apparently died for this session. One is House Bill 4572, which would have changed classifications and compensation for school service personnel. The other is House Bill 4554, which would have allowed counties that have fully implemented early childhood education programs to accept additional students for enrollment if space were available.

 


By Jim Wallace

Two bills dealing with broadband Internet connections are still alive in the legislative process.

House Bill 4613 would allow the Infrastructure and Jobs Development Council to issue broadband middle-mile revenue bonds when there are sufficient revenues for the issuance of those bonds. The council would be required to keep funds for water and sewer infrastructure projects separate and apart from funds for broadband middle mile infrastructure projects. For purposes of taking action on broadband middle-mile infrastructure projects or matters, the council would be increased by two members: the secretary of the Department of Administration, or his or her designee, and the director of WVNET. Two members would be added to the Broadband Deployment Council: a member of the Infrastructure and Jobs Development Council not already a member of the Broadband Development Council and the director of WVNET. The powers and duties of the Broadband Deployment Council would be expanded.

The House amended the bill to create an advisory committee to advise the Joint Committee on Government and Finance on broadband middle-mile project matters. That advisory committee would review, study and report on whether to authorize the West Virginia Infrastructure and Jobs Development Council to provide grants or loans or authorize or issue broadband middle-mile revenue bonds when there is sufficient revenue. The committee would begin meeting in March. By September 1, it would be expected to file a final report with the Joint Committee on Government and Finance.

Before the House approved the bill last week, Delegate Mitch Carmichael, R-Jackson, called it an important element of development projects in West Virginia.

“For us to be interconnected in the 21st century to the World Wide Web, we need broadband delivery services,” Carmichael, who works for Frontier Communications, said. “It’s appropriate to study this now – put it in a study resolution – and make sure we approach spending our state funds in such a manner that does not deviate from the projects that we have currently in place to expand broadband and to really connect West Virginia in a way that other states have not even gotten to yet. Right now, currently, West Virginia is one of the least wired states in the nation, and soon with some advancement being made here by some private companies we will be among the most wired states in the nation.”

The House approved the House Bill 4613 on a vote of 96-0 with four members absent.

In the Senate, the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee approved the bill and sent it on to the Senate Finance Committee for further consideration.

The other broadband bill is Senate Bill 110, which would expand the charge of the Broadband Deployment Council to compel the study and promotion of the use of electronic, Internet, and virtual instruction on student learning, career readiness, workforce preparation and alternative career training. It also would compel the council to implement e-instruction and distance education services by 2014.

The Senate approved the bill on a 34-0 vote. It was scheduled for its final reading and possible passage in the House today. The House made changes in the bill, so the differences between the House and Senate versions would have to be resolved before it could go to the governor for his signature.

 


By Jim Wallace

The House and Senate Education committees approved several resolutions this week that could lead to studies that joint legislative committees will conduct during their monthly interim meetings, which are held between the annual, regular sessions of the Legislature. Those studies could result in bills that lawmakers will consider during their 2013 regular session.

Topics the House Education Committee wants to study include:

  • A “bill of rights” for deaf and hard-of-hearing students;
  • Prevention of teen pregnancy;
  • Athlete safety;
  • Defibrillators in schools; and
  • Harassment in schools.

The committee also planned to meet today to consider resolutions to study local share funding and the education efficiency audit.

The Senate Education Committee has passed resolutions for lawmakers to study these topics:

  • Harassment in schools;
  • A “bill of rights” for deaf and hard-of-hearing students;
  • Truancy;
  • The education efficiency audit; and
  • College and career readiness.

Some of those topics were the subjects of bills that failed to get through the Legislature this year.

 


 

West Virginia Students Showcase Math Skills
http://www.heraldstaronline.com/page/content.detail/id/571035/West-Virginia-

 

WV Teachers Learn to Use Geographic Information System in Classrooms
http://www.wboy.com/story/17067703/social-studies

 

McDowell Co. School Innovation Bill Advances
http://www.wchstv.com/newsroom/wvlegis/news1.shtml

 

UPDATE: Cabell County Cracking Down on Truancy
http://www.wsaz.com/news/headlines/Cabell_County_Cracking_Down_on_Truancy_141140173.html

 

Would Alternative Teacher Certification Help West Virginia Schools,
Students?
http://wvgazette.com/News/201203030046

 

Twelve W. Va. Teachers Receive Awards
http://www.dailymail.com/News/PutnamCounty/201203040132

 

WV Legislature Still Considering Education Bills
http://www.statejournal.com/story/17081706/education-measures-still-under-consideration

 

Students Respond to Classmate's Death

http://www.wvmetronews.com/news.cfm?func=displayfullstory

 

'Rocket Boy' to Speak at Graduation
http://www.fayettetribune.com/local/x1888226694/-Rocket-Boy-to-speak-at-graduation

 

Charles McElwee: Education Audit Raises Many Issues
http://wvgazette.com/Opinion/OpEdCommentaries/201203020155

 

Students Honor Seuss' Birthday
http://www.journal-news.net/page/content.detail/id/576028/Students-honor-Seuss--birthday.html?nav=5006

 

No Child Left Behind Left Lots of Schools Behind
http://dailymail.com/Opinion/Editorials/201203010256

 

Flexibility Means an Early Summer
http://dailymail.com/Opinion/Editorials/201203010258

 

Julian Martin: Students Should Evaluate Teachers
http://wvgazette.com/Opinion/201203010168

 

School Board to Hear about Year-Round Schedules
http://www.herald-dispatch.com/news/x583028851/School-board-to-hear-about-year-round-schedules

 

Art Education Open House Set for Ripley
http://www.newsandsentinel.com/page/content.detail/id/558189/Art-education--open-house-set-for-Ripley.html?nav=5061

 

W. Va. Department of Education Chooses I-CAR Curriculum for Secondary,
Vocational Schools
http://www.bodyshopbusiness.com/Article/97721/wva_department_of_education_ch ooses_icar_curriculum_for_secondary_vocational_schools.aspx?categoryId=