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McKinley Architects & Engineers

February 14, 2014 - Volume 34 Issue 11

Commentary

“Search for the truth is the noblest occupation of man; its publication is a duty.” - Anne Louise Germaine de Stael (1766-1817), a French-speaking Swiss author living in Paris and abroad who influenced literary tastes in Europe at the turn of the 19th century.

 


 

 

West Virginia teachers complain — and rightly so — about the many mandates they face from Charleston. The mandates emanate from a state Department of Education that has too many administrators.

In 2011, the state had 637 employees in its central office, including the superintendent, the deputy superintendent, four assistant superintendents, a division assistant chief, an executive director/chief financial officer, 19 executive directors and 27 assistant directors.

The state bureaucracy is on top of the central offices of the 55 county school districts with their superintendents, deputy superintendents and assistant superintendents.

West Virginia has a larger state central office staff with 637 than New York state, which has only 519 state education employees but nearly 10 times as many students.

Having one state central office employee for every 416 students makes no sense. That is the second worst ratio in the nation. Only Alaska is more top heavy. New York seems to get by with only one state school employee for every 5,000 students. Why not West Virginia?

In its 2012 efficiency audit of education in West Virginia, Public Works LLC included the reduction in the number of positions in the state Department of Education among its recommendations.

Delegate Gary Gearheart, R-Mercer, and 10 other Republican delegates proposed legislation this year to do that.

Their proposal would set the state bureaucracy at a maximum of one state school employee for every 2,000 students. The bill's co-sponsors are Republican Delegates George Ambler, Tom Azinger, Jim Butler, Ray Canterbury, David Evans, Bill Hamilton, Danny Hamrick, Carol Miller, Randy Smith and Steve Westfall.

"Taxpayers as well as primary and secondary students in West Virginia deserve the most efficient use of scarce education resources possible and classroom education should be the primary focus of any education paradigm," Gearheart's bill states.

West Virginia taxpayers, who rank No. 49 in personal income, rank No. 17 in spending per student. The state Department of Education is a small portion of that spending.

But too many rules that stem out of Charleston interfere with teaching. And every dime spent by the state matters. Democrats should have no problem in joining with Republicans to trim the state education bureaucracy.

This editorial originally appeared in the Charleston Daily Mail on February 11. It is used here by permission.