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February 10, 2017 - Volume 37 Issue 2

By Jim Wallace

Legislative leaders are reacting much more favorably to Gov. Jim Justice’s education proposals than the financial plans he presented in his State of the State address this week.

“I think it was a good proposal,” Senate Education Chairman Kenny Mann, R-Monroe, said about the education portion of the address. He said it should help that Justice is a high school basketball coach in Greenbrier County and has spent much time around the schools. “I look forward to pushing education as an economic driver,” Mann said.

“We have got to return education back as much as we possibly can to a local level.” – Gov. Jim Justice

In his address to legislators, Justice called for “gigantic education reform” That includes legislation “to eliminate any of the unnecessary bureaucracies that we have,” he said. “We have got to return education back as much as we possibly can to a local level. I have put in my budget a 2 percent raise for all classroom teachers, and I am ashamed – I’m ashamed that we can't do more.”

Saying that students are tested too much while the state ranks near the bottom of the nation for student achievement, Justice said it is obvious that West Virginia is doing something wrong. “As far as the testing goes, I am going to propose we throw Smarter Balanced in the trash can and we go to ACT testing,” he said.

Something else the governor wants to get rid of is the relatively new system of giving schools A through F grades based on a bell curve. “Our schools are mostly all C's,” Justice said. “I don't get it. That's got to go. A through F is gone.”

The governor also he said he is “no fan” of school consolidation. Specifically, he said he would hope and pray for a new school in Richwood, which lost two schools to flooding last year.

Before he left the subject of education, he described his dream for using education to build the state’s economy.

“Let me tell you,” Justice said. “Throughout the campaign, I said education can be a revenue producer for us, and everybody looks at me: How in the world? There’s no way. There’s no way. Everybody wants to go where your kids are going to be educated the best. Businesses want to go where your kids are going to be educated the best. We’ve got good teachers. We’ve got low crime. We’ve got good people. For crying out loud, we handcuff them every way coming and going. We got to stop that. And listen here. Maybe it’s a twist of words on revenue producers, but if we could create an education mecca in West Virginia, honest to Pete, people would come and you couldn’t beat them away. It would be a revenue producer.”

“Maybe it’s a twist of words on revenue producers, but if we could create an education mecca in West Virginia, honest to Pete, people would come and you couldn’t beat them away. It would be a revenue producer.” – Gov. Jim Justice

Education chairmen approve.

Like his Senate counterpart, House Education Chairman Paul Espinosa, R-Jefferson, likes many of Justice’s education proposals, such as reducing bureaucracy and empowering superintendents, teachers and principals to make decision closer to the classroom.

“I think that resonated well with legislators,” Espinosa said. The two education committees have been working on reform legislation to do that, he said, adding that they want to provide additional flexibility to both public education and higher education.

Espinosa also is willing to consider the proposal for replacing the Smarter Balanced test with the ACT. He said the House of Delegates passed a bill last year on a 99-0 vote that called for replacing the Smarter Balanced test with something else. It did not specify the ACT but the organizations that produce the ACT and SAT both said they could produce proposals for West Virginia’s end-of-year summative tests, he said. That House bill did not get approval from the Senate last year.

Mann, who not only is new as chairman of the Senate Education Committee but also new to the legislature, said he favors a test like ACT that students would be less likely to dismiss as unimportant. “I’m really excited to look into that because I need skin in the game for our students, and that’s a start,” he said.

On the Democratic side, Delegate Ricky Moye, D-Raleigh, said, “In the past, I have supported the ACT, and I would still support that. I think it’s a better way to go.”

However, Moye, who is the minority chairman – or top-ranking Democrat – on the House Education Committee, said he would prefer to take a completely different approach to testing. The state school board has been considering switching to end-of-year tests in each subject, but Moye would like to have tests at the end of each semester.

“If you’re taught concepts that you don’t use for the rest of the year, and you’re tested on it at the end of the year, you’re less likely to retain that and test as well,” he said. “I’m OK with ACT, but I would like us to just totally rethink how we test our students. If we have smaller tests at the end of semesters that ended up being the equivalent, our students wouldn’t be worn out by testing. They wouldn’t be as long.”

The legislators also like the idea of giving teachers a 2 percent pay raise, although they are concerned about funding it in a year with such a big budget hole to fill.

“I’ve certainly been an advocate for trying to provide more competitive pay for our educators.” – Delegate Paul Espinosa

“I’ve certainly been an advocate for trying to provide more competitive pay for our educators,” Espinosa said. “I was pleased to support the last pay raise that we enacted a few years ago. So I very much want to try to get our teacher pay more competitive, particularly in an area such as the Eastern Panhandle that I represent where salaries in bordering counties are significantly higher than what we are offering in West Virginia. I think the big challenge is how you fund that.”

Mann put it this way: “If you want the best, you got to pay the best. Of course, it’s hard to shine right now being in a half-billion dollar deficit. I would love for it to be more and I’m hoping we can get to there.” As someone who has done substitute teaching as well as served on the Monroe County Board of Education, he said educators have tougher jobs than many people realize.

Moye said, “I think raises for all of our state employees are long overdue, but how do you afford those raises when we have a $500 million deficit? It will be interesting to see how that works out and how we can do that. His wording for that was interesting: for ‘classroom teachers.’ He was specific about that, so he was wanting a raise for classroom teachers and no one else. That’s the way I understood it.”

Cost also is a concern of Espinosa on the issue of school consolidation. “I certainly appreciate that consolidation is always a very difficult undertaking,” he said. “Certainly, it’s not something that we like to see communities have to experience. But again, typically consolidation is related to decreases in enrollment. As communities around our state are experiencing significant declines in enrollment, it does make it difficult to continue to maintain multiple facilities in some of these communities. I appreciate the governor’s perspective and again certainly empathize with those communities that have undergone difficult type of decisions, but I’m just not sure when you see significant reductions in enrollment…how you avoid some type of consolidation without spreading increasingly limited resources very, very thin.”

In regard to Justice’s proposal to get rid of the A-through-F grading system for schools, Mann said, educators want to be held accountable, but that’s not the way to do it. “The thing with A-through-F – it’s not a fair system especially with our less fortunate counties financially,” he said. “I’m trying to build morale in our public education. It’s going to be hard for the less financially stable counties to get up from a D or a C. So it’s not a fair scale, and it doesn’t show the true value of the school.”

“Everyone can trim the belt. I know that our educators are strapped right now. They’re already wearing two or three hats.” – Sen. Kenny Mann

Mann said he is looking forward to getting more information on how Justice wants to trim education bureaucracy. “Everyone can trim the belt,” he said. “I know that our educators are strapped right now. They’re already wearing two or three hats.”

Moye said he expects Regional Education Service Agencies to be a key target for cuts, but he’s willing to look at more. “Hey, if we’ve got stuff out there we don’t need, we’ve got a budget crisis,” he said. “We need to look at being more streamlined and even more efficient.”

Proposals get approval from teachers’ representatives.

Leaders of teachers’ unions also liked what they heard about education in Justice’s State of the State address.

“I actually thought it was pretty exciting,” Christine Campbell, president of the American Federation of Teachers-West Virginia, said. “I think that he’s been talking about these things on the campaign trail and in the transition team meetings and this really is actually walking the walk, putting proposals out there, putting things in the budget, talking about the over-testing, talking about the A-to-F grading system, and I’m just really excited and hope that there’s some political will to really make these things happen. We’ve got to get the bureaucracy out of public education and really focus on what’s happening in the classroom and making sure that we have resources to do the right things for kids.”

Dale Lee, president of the West Virginia Education Association, said, “I’m pleased that he recognized that we have to pay our teachers to be able to attract and keep our teachers in West Virginia. I’m anxious to look more into the budget to see if we’re addressing [the Public Employees Insurance Agency] because it’s a combination of salaries and benefits that’s going to keep the teachers here.”

“What I believe is we can get through this first year, and we can do the things that he says we need to do to really start West Virginia moving forward…. Then if he’s willing to do 2 percent now, when we get this thing rolling, then I believe the salary increases are going to be there.” – Dale Lee 

Asked whether a 2 percent raise is the best that teachers can hope for in such a tough budget year, he said, “What I believe is we can get through this first year, and we can do the things that he says we need to do to really start West Virginia moving forward…. Then if he’s willing to do 2 percent now, when we get this thing rolling, then I believe the salary increases are going to be there.”

Lee said he is “thrilled” that Justice wants to eliminate the A-through-F grading system for schools and replace the Smarter Balanced tests. He said Justice responded to what he heard from teachers during his campaign.

Although Lee said he doesn’t know what Justice has in mind in terms of cutting education bureaucracy, Campbell welcomed changes in what she said has been a top-down system for a long time.

“We have to look at where are the positions that could be streamlined so that we can push that money down to the classrooms.” – Christine Campbell

“We have to look at where are the positions that could be streamlined so that we can push that money down to the classrooms,” she said. “Then I think the other part of the bureaucracy is the over-testing, and the school grading system is not looking at multiple measures.” If schools are to be evaluated, Campbell said, the system should recognize such factors as their after-school programs, Feed to Achieve programs, wraparound services, teacher mentoring programs, farm-to-school programs and other programs that address the needs of the whole child.

“Schools should get credit for putting those things in place,” she said. “That should be part of an accountability system.”

Governor proposes tax increases to fix budget.

But while legislators, as well as teachers’ representatives, like the governor’s education proposals, his proposals for handling the budget are not faring so well, and of course, how the budget is handled has a big effect on the public education system.

“I’ve got to have everybody in this state pay a half of a penny in additional sales tax. There is no way around it.” – Gov. Jim Justice

Legislative leaders don’t like the means Justice has chosen to pull the state out of a budget hole in the range of $500 million to $600 million, or as he referred to it in his folksy State of the State address, an “18-cart dog’s mess.” More specifically, they don’t like his call for increasing taxes, even temporarily, and they don’t think he wants to cut state government enough.

Justice proposed temporary increases in the sales tax and the gasoline tax on the way to a future in which West Virginia could eliminate the personal income tax. But before he made those proposals, he warned legislators of dire consequences of eliminating the shortfall with just massive cuts, as many of them have advocated.

“Are you willing to eliminate all of our state parks?” Justice asked. “Are you willing to eliminate all of your colleges and universities other than Marshall and WVU? Shut them down? Are you really willing to close our tracks, to not have dogs, and to not have horses? Are you really truly willing to gut your seniors? Are you willing to turn our backs on our vets? I can’t get there. I can’t get you there because you know why? Because at the end of what I’ve just said, you’re halfway home. What then are you going to do? What is West Virginia going to become? A nuclear waste site? Is it going to become the place where our nation sends all of its prisoners all of the time? Are we not better than that?”

The governor compared that to a factory that sold off 75 percent of its equipment to balance its budget and then had nothing left to produce new income.

After saying he proposed almost $30 million in budget cuts and emphasizing that he hates tax increases, Justice said, “I’ve got to have everybody in this state pay a half of a penny in additional sales tax. There is no way around it. I've got to have you pay instead of $30 in DMV fees, I've got to have you pay 50. The other thing is this: In trying to be fair...I’ve got to have our businesses…pay two-tenths of one percent in a tax that would be equivalent to a B&O tax. It is a tax that Ohio charges…25 hundredths. We would charge 20 [hundredths]. And the other last thing I will talk to you about is I’ve got to have ten cents a gallon on gasoline.”

Justice said he wants to keep the sales tax increase and the gas tax increase on the books for only three years while the state would climb out of its budget hole.

“Now, I am telling you: If you don't do this, you’re dead,” he said. “You’re dead beyond belief.”

His plan is to use the extra revenue from the increased gas tax and the increase vehicle registration fee through the Division of Motor Vehicles for bond issues of up to $2.8 billion to fund road projects all around the state. “We can let every single road job that is on the books for one to three, and three to five years, tomorrow,” Justice said. “We can let them all tomorrow. Think what this would do. Just imagine what it will do. I'll tell you what it will do. It will create 48,000 jobs in our state.”

In addition, the governor indicated that he not only wants to keep tolls on the West Virginia Turnpike because out-of-state drivers pay 77 percent of them but also increase the cost of tolls and put tolls on other roads. Justice said he would raise the Turnpike tolls from $2.00 to $3.00 per tollbooth but would dedicate $8.00 that each West Virginia driver would pay to the DMV to be used to give them passes for free travel on toll roads. But while doing so, he suggested that the state might need to impose tolls on roads other than the Turnpike.

“I will promise you there will be something that will be in your neighborhood that will be tolled as well,” Justice said.

Another tax proposal made by the governor, who made much of his fortune in the coal industry, would be to have a tiered severance tax system for coal and natural gas. “If coal is $35 [per ton], whoever is mining that is losing money,” Justice said. “Lowering the severance tax on that to 2 percent, or whatever you want to do, okay, I’m good…. What if it goes to $200 a ton? What happens? Two hundred dollars. I know this. There’s no way that your cost – anybody’s cost – is going to be greater than $80. At this level right here, anybody’s profit is $120 a ton.”

Legislative leaders are disappointed in governor’s proposals.

Other than that proposal about severance taxes and Justice’s goal of eventually removing the personal income tax, the governor’s tax plans are getting a cold reception from legislative leaders.

“I am incredibly disappointed that the governor came forth with over $450 million…of new taxes on the people of West Virginia. That’s the wrong approach to take.” – Senate President Mitch Carmichael

“We definitely want to move away from an income tax and more towards a consumer sales tax,” Senate President Mitch Carmichael, R-Jackson, said. “Other states have been successful, and they’ve generated growth and jobs and opportunity. So we are supportive of that initiative, but I am incredibly disappointed that the governor came forth with over $450 million – it looks like just by rough math – of new taxes on the people of West Virginia. That’s the wrong approach to take. As he said throughout the campaign and since his election, the people of West Virginia are overtaxed…and we need to reform our tax structure, not just simply add to it.”

Likewise, House Speaker Tim Armstead, R-Kanawha, said, “We have very, very serious concerns about the governor’s approach to balancing our budget.” He added, “We’re going to have to all roll our sleeves up. I truly believe that the mood of the legislature – both the House and the Senate – is that we need to balance this budget through reducing the size of government, and I didn’t see that in this proposal.”

Although Armstead said the legislative leaders want to have an open door and work with the governor, Justice is unlikely to get the budget he has proposed.

“I believe the governor campaigned on a platform that we need to get our house in order, reduce the size of government and not raise taxes on families,” Armstead said. “I know that they’re saying now that it’s worse than what he expected but these numbers that we’re talking about now have been out there. They were discussed back when we were doing the current fiscal year’s budget last spring. We pretty much knew what these numbers were going to be at this point. So I don’t think that’s really surprised anyone, and that’s why I’m particularly disappointed.”

Legislators had the impression that Justice was trying to “right-size” the government, Armstead said, but his budget doesn’t do that.

On the subject of tiered severance taxes, Carmichael said, “In concept, I agree with him. I think the devil is in the details. We need to look at that. We’re not just rejecting every proposal out of hand. Again, I really like this governor…but I think his policy as it relates to tax and spend is the wrong direction for West Virginia.”

Asked whether the legislature could find more than the almost $30 million in cuts Justice proposed, Armstead said, “Absolutely. We talked in the neighborhood of $200 million during the special session last year, and we proposed a number of those cuts to [former] Gov. [Earl Ray] Tomblin. So we’re going to have to start looking at those again because I really believe the sentiment that I’ve heard from the House is that they want to reduce the size of government, that they are not looking to basically keep us right where we are in terms of the budget and make minor reductions and raise taxes on all of our citizens.”

Armstead said he would talk with both Republicans and Democrats about the issue. “But based on my discussions up to this point, I really don’t see us passing a sales tax increase,” he said. “I don’t see us basing our budget on tax increases, as the governor has proposed.”

“I don’t see us basing our budget on tax increases, as the governor has proposed.” – Speaker Tim Armstead

Senate Finance Chairman Mike Hall, R-Putnam, said he also wants to talk with others about what the governor proposed. “But to be candid, most of the conversation around here for three or four weeks has been that there’s no interest in new revenue measures,” he said. “But he was making the point that you can’t necessarily get home with all the cuts, so that’s the challenge right now.”

Asked whether putting up with a few years of additional taxes might be worth it to reach the goal of eliminating the income tax, Hall said. “There are some things in there that could work.” But he said looking at reducing expenditures, eliminating waste and other things would come first. “Once we get the expenditures to the level that everyone says can’t go any lower…then is when you talk about how to fill the gap,” he said.

Hall’s counterpart, House Finance Chairman Eric Nelson, R-Kanawha, said he likes the goal but is not sure about Justice’s method of reaching it. “It’s one thing that we on the tax reform committee have looked at these various taxes we have,” he said. “It’s a solid goal to eliminate personal income tax because I think it’s been proven in the seven other states. They’re a little more economically vibrant. But personal income taxes in this state amount to $1.8 billion, roughly 40 percent of our total general revenue. He talked about doing that by raising the consumer sales tax. We’ve got too many bordering states. I think many of our citizens potentially would jump across the border to buy their goods.”

Asked about what it would mean for school districts if West Virginia eliminated the personal income tax, as legislators and the governor alike want to do, Nelson noted that most school board revenue comes from real estate. “If we can create more economic growth, and obviously with no personal income tax, people would come to the state of West Virginia and that would create greater demand for real estate, prices [would] go up and so the taxes [would have] more coming into education,” he said.

In regard to schools, Nelson added, “Obviously, we have teachers that are very deserving. I think there was a lot of interest in some of his suggestions of maybe eliminating the extra burden that has been put on our school personnel. I think we’re all in favor of that.”

“He certainly came out with a very bold, forward-thinking agenda, and I think he certainly made the case that we can’t keep digging the hole deeper and cutting and cutting and cutting and still expect to move forward.” – Delegate Tim Miley

House Minority Leader Tim Miley, D-Harrison, was more willing to consider the governor’s budget plan. “He certainly came out with a very bold, forward-thinking agenda, and I think he certainly made the case that we can’t keep digging the hole deeper and cutting and cutting and cutting and still expect to move forward,” Miley said. “I am encouraged that he proposed those tax increases for a temporary, limited period of time. I think it’s designed just to get us through these rough waters and they go off the books.”

However, he was doubtful that the governor’s plan would fare well with the current makeup of the legislature. “The Republican leadership has made it very clear they don’t have any appetite for tax increases, so I don’t know what we’ll get to vote on or not,” Miley said. “But I can just tell you, he’s certainly making the case for the benefits of raising revenue to move West Virginia forward.”

Gov. Justice’s proposed budget is available at: http://www.budget.wv.gov/executivebudget/Documents/Presentation2018.pdf.

Legislators already made education reform a high priority.

Hours before the governor delivered his State of the State address, legislative leaders said they intend to make education reform one of the major topics of the 60-day legislative session, which began Wednesday.

Both Carmichael and Armstead cited education reform as a major task this year when they addressed an audience of business people and fellow legislators during the annual Issues & Eggs Breakfast presented by the Charleston Regional Chamber of Commerce. An education efficiency audit in 2012 found that West Virginia has the most centralized education system in the nation. Considering that the state also has a low level of student achievement, Carmichael said, “It creates in us a moral imperative to change the education delivery system in West Virginia and ensure that our children and our students in this school system in West Virginia receive a world-class education that prepares them to compete in a 21st century worldwide economy.”

Armstead also wants to address the problem of having one of the most bureaucratic education systems in the country by decentralizing it. “We truly have confidence in our teachers,” he said. “We have confidence in our principals and our county administrators. We want to give them the flexibility and the autonomy to go to work and reach our children.”

Espinosa said people in the schools “want more flexibility to make good decisions.” Thus, he said, “Let’s try to eliminate a lot of the bureaucracy that’s down here in Charleston, try to drive a lot of that flexibility out as close to the classroom as we can. I’ll say it again: Our local school boards, our superintendents, our principals, our teachers and our parents can make better decisions for students.”

Espinosa said legislators have been looking at changing the personnel code to provide “common sense flexibility” for both public education and higher education. They also have been looking at the 2012 education efficiency audit and want to consider proposals calling for changes in the law.

By Jim Wallace

The Legislative Oversight Commission on Education Accountability has reviewed several new policies from the Department of Education and state school board without objections. The policies reviewed on Thursday include:

  • Policy 2340: West Virginia Measures of Academic Progress. Clayton Burch, chief academic officer at the Department of Education, said the policy provides the operational framework to administer the state assessment system and provides procedures to ensure the integrity of test data and support the use of that data to improve instruction. The state board put the policy out for comment in January. Burch said it would realign the years for the science assessment. Instead of grades four, six and 10, the grades would be five, eight and 10. The policy proposes the idea of using end-of-course exams for high school instead of Smarter Balanced tests. At the same time the policy was released, the state board directed the department to put together a request for proposals to reassess how to handle assessment for grades three through eight, Burch said. “We will see how that goes when it goes before the board because this policy has received a lot of comments,” he said.
  • Policy 2520.19: West Virginia College- and Career-Readiness Dispositions and Standards for Student Success for Grades K-12. “This would be standards for social-emotional development,” Burch said. In the past, there were standards under three different policies, he said, and this would put them into one policy and reduce the number of standards.
  • Policy 2520.14: West Virginia College- and Career-Readiness Standards for Technology and Computer Science. Burch said the older policy referred to 21st century technology skills and integration. It still includes technology integration but also includes computer science courses, he said. This policy does not dictate what computer science courses should be but simply offers additional options, he said. “There are locally developed computer science courses that meet that criteria,” Burch said. “There are computer science courses through career and technical education that meet that criteria. And this policy includes an option for counties, if they so choose, additional courses if you didn’t have one or you didn’t want to create one on your own.” House Education Chairman Paul Espinosa, R-Jefferson, noted that the policy is in response to 2016 legislation to see that enough students receive computer science education to meet demand.
  • Policy 4110, which is the attendance policy. Sarah Stewart, the department’s director of education policy and government relations, said the change in the policy is to comply with the federal Every Student Succeeds Act. She said it no longer allows students to be identified as awaiting foster care.
  • Policy 5000: Procedures for Designated Hiring and Transfer of School Personnel. Heather Hutchins, general counsel for the department, said the policy was implemented in response to wide-scale changes in 2013 in Senate Bill 359, but some of the language was changed last year in House Bill 4566. She said all of the changes bring the policy into compliance with state law. One significant change moves the deadlines by which individuals need to be notified for aligning the workforce. Another relates to vacancies known to exist for the following school year. The deadline date has been moved forward to give districts more time.
  • Policy 5901: Alternative Certification Programs for the Education of Teachers. Robert Hagerman, executive director of the Office of Educator Effectiveness and Licensure, said the policy was put out for comment on minor changes, which include clarification of language and removal of repetitive language.

Editor’s Note: In other legislative developments both the Senate and House Education Committees held organizational meetings this week.

Senate Education Chair Kenny Mann, R-Monroe, appointed a subcommittee to study “school choice.” The three-member subcommittee is chaired by Sen. Robert L. Karnes, R-Upshur. The other two subcommittee members are Mike Azinger, R-Wood, and Robert L. “Bob” Plymale, D-Wayne.

By Carrie Hodousek

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — West Virginia Superintendent of Schools Dr. Michael Martirano says he has a plan to address the “unconscionable” amount of teacher vacancies in the state. “Right now we have 718 teacher vacancies across the state,” Martirano said. “That means that our young people are not receiving the quality education they deserve by a quality teacher.”

Dr. Michael Martirano, outgoing West Virginia superintendent of schools In his plan, presented to state Board of Education members Thursday at the state Capitol, Martirano said he wants to create a “teacher corps” to help fill those jobs. Those individuals, he said, would go to rural areas, specifically border counties like McDowell and Jefferson where teachers are leaving West Virginia for opportunities in other states.

“Come into our state. Give us 3-5 years of teaching. We would work with them to incentivize by paying off their student loan — going to the areas that are geographically isolated,” he explained. “I have close to 40 vacancies in McDowell County out of 225 teachers.”

The “teacher corps” idea is part of a three-pronged approach he plans to present to the state Legislature. The other two parts include looking at education policies and giving teachers the financial support they need. Martirano is a big supporter of Governor Jim Justice’s proposal to raise teacher salaries by 2 percent.

“We are number 46 in terms of our average teacher salary,” Martirano said, which pays about $45,554 annually, according to the National Teacher Association. “We fall further and further behind.”

“Every child in our state needs to have a high quality teacher in every classroom,” he noted. “Anything less than that is not acceptable.”

The breakdown of teacher vacancies in West Virginia are as follows:

  • Special Education: 238
  • Math: 92
  • Elementary and Early Education: 79
  • Science: 43
  • English: 31
  • Administrative Support Services: 36
  • Foreign Language: 31
  • Career and Technical Education: 32
  • Reading/Reading Specialist: 32
  • The Arts: 20
  • Other: 96

Martirano only has a few months left as State School Superintendent. He announced his resignation last September and plans to leave the job July 3.

On Thursday, the board voted to institute a hiring freeze on the state Department of Education. The board also approved DOE staff to draft a job posting for the position. Board members will review the job posting at the next meeting set for Feb. 16 at 9 a.m.

Newly named state school board President Tom Campbell agreed with Justice’s education proposals. He even liked how the governor ended his State of the State Address by comparing the state’s budget woes to the New England Patriot’s historic comeback against the Atlanta Falcons in last Sunday’s Super Bowl victory.

Justice said Patriots quarterback Tom Brady “led a comeback that was unbelievable.” “He took the Super Bowl trophy — I watched him do this — he stood on the podium and screamed, “Let’s go!” After he had won,” Justice told a packed House Chamber Wednesday night. “Well, I’d say to you: “Let’s go!”

Campbell said they should apply Justice’s analogy to what goes on in West Virginia’s public school system.

“If we’ll adopt that same type of attitude here, that maybe we’re down 28 to 3 — they came back pretty quick — we can too,” Campbell said, referring to the Patriots’ win.

In addition to teacher raises, Justice said he also wants to do away with the A-F grading system and throw Smarter Balanced assessment testing “in the trash can.”

Campbell said that proves to him that Justice truly cares about teachers and students in West Virginia.

“We’re in tight times, but I like the fact that even though we are in tight times, we’re realizing that one of the ways out of those tight times is to improve our education system,” he said. Share this:

Editor’s Note: Reprinted by permission of MetroNews. This article was is dated Feb 9, 2017.

Editor’s Note: The following is a resolution regarding support for RESAs as prepared by the West Virginia Association of School Administrators. Governor Justice’s FY18 budget eliminates legislative funding for RESAs.

The West Virginia Association of School Administrators> strongly supports the mission and goals of the West Virginia RESAs. RESA’s diligently work to maximize the financial and human resources necessary to improve teaching and learning in West Virginia schools. Their programs and services help facilitate the ability of county school systems to focus on their primary mission of teaching and learning. A microcosm of programs and services are provided in the following examples.

Over the past five years the RESAs have collectively provided:

  • Professional Development for over 150,000 educators
  • Services or repaired over one half million computers
  • Cooperative purchasing and cost avoidance of over 50 million dollars
  • Assisted counties with Medicaid billing reimbursements of over 200 million dollars
  • Provided public service training for approximately a quarter of a million community servants
  • Orchestrated student academic fairs and activities for over 15,000 students
  • Over one half million WVEIS users with vital timely help desk assistance

The preceding examples are emblematic of how pervasive RESA programs and services are throughout West Virginia. If the Legislators who created RESAs in 1972 could see their vision of capacity building, i.e. economies of scale, efficiencies of programs, return on investments and services offered by the RESAs today, they would be most pleased about their creation. Today’s West Virginia School Administrators actively build on this vision by utilizing the capacity and flexibility of RESAs as part of an overall integrated approach to solving many of today’s education problems.

The West Virginia Association of School Administrators clearly understands the significant impact made by the RESAs and acknowledges that RESAs have:

  • Complied with the original legislative mandates that directed RESAs to implement cooperative planning initiatives between county school systems, with a goal of achieving greater efficiency and equity of services customized to the unique needs and wants of various regions;
  • Maximized financial resources, human resources, and economies of scale by establishing cooperation and collaboration between county school systems and other education-related agencies to effectively facilitate programs and initiatives at a scale conducive to successful implementation;
  • Applied for thousands of dollars in grant support to supplement state funding which increases the education systems capacity and effectiveness;
  • Provided a flexible agency that is able to respond and adapt to the changing educational landscape by housing a variety of unique and/or ancillary programs while maintaining the integrity of each program’s focus and avoiding added administrative burden to the county school systems;
  • Benefited the total community as they partner with county school boards, institutions of higher education, various state agencies, emergency services organizations and business and industry;
  • Become a necessary and integrated part of the education system in West Virginia that is the only focal point for effective regional collaboration and delivery of services at an effective economy of scale that is depended upon for successful delivery of services at both the State and Local level.

Therefore, the West Virginia Association of School Administrators wholeheartedly supports the programs and services that the RESAs provide and strongly urges the West Virginia Legislature to support the 55 County Boards of Education by continuing the work of RESAs and providing the funding required to advance the educational policy of the West Virginia Legislature and State Board of Education.

Arthur L. Rogers, Jr.

Executive Director

 

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Editor’s Note – Jim Wallace is a former government reporter for the Charleston Daily Mail, former news director of West Virginia Public Radio and former news director of WWVA/WOVK radio in Wheeling. He now works for TSG Consulting, a public relations and governmental affairs company with offices in Charleston and Beckley. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from The Ohio State University and a master’s degree in journalism from West Virginia University. Wallace is the author of the 2012 book,A History of the West Virginia Capitol: The House of State.