January 18, 2019 - Volume 39 Issue 2



The West Virginia School Board Association’s (WVSBA) Legislative Steering Committee will meet today using a conference call format.

WVSBA President Lori Kestner (Marshall) described the committee as “necessarily diverse, reflecting the association’s membership.”

During today’s meeting, the committee will receive a series of reports concerning legislative activities being undertake by the WVSBA staff and others. The committee also will consider appointment of members interested in review legislative drafts for bills the association is supporting.

Legislative leadership in both houses suggested the measures be presented to education committee chairs first.

Association executive director Howard M. O’Cull, Ed.D, and Jim Crawford (Kanawha), a WVSBA past president, met with the education committee leadership, including Senate Education Chairman Patricia Rucker, R-Jefferson, and House Chairman Danny Hamrick, R-Harrison. The House visitation included committee staff.

The purpose of the visits was for review of WVSBA legislative priorities which include:

  • Support for a series of state Board of Education proposals relating to school funding in West Virginia, including enhanced counselor services for students, considerations to enhance school maintenance and a proposal to reestablish leave incentives for employees to reduce the need for substitutes and improve retention and recruitment rates.
  • Consideration of a measure to provide Local School Improvement Councils with greater emphasis regarding individual school academic achievement. Additionally, the statutorily-required county board meetings with LSICs would focus on low academic performance. Other district schools, however, could request a meeting with the county board. Moreover, another provision of state law would amend to provide progress in terms of student achievement is tied to county board self-performance and a greater aspect of county superintendent evaluation.
  • Revisiting an article of Code adopted in 2013 to provide greater flexibility for a county board to become an Innovation School District. As with existing law, school employee personnel laws would remain as is and waivers, as with LSICs, could be sought in terms of some laws and state Board of Education policies. Finally, the mechanism for a county board to be named an Innovation School District would be streamlined.
  • Ensuring county boards retain solvency in terms of funding if the anticipated manufacturing equipment inventory bill and constitutional amendment were to be adopted.
  • Revising county board member compensation, last changed in 2001, to ensure county boards receive an increase in compensation. The contemplated increase in compensation would be set at $200 per meeting not to exceed 50 meetings per year. (Current compensation is $160 per meeting with the 50 meeting cap.) Under terms of this proposal, county board members could utilize two “meetings” of the 50 for receipt of compensation. The two “meetings” would be “deducted” from the allowable 50 “meetings” per year and would be applicable only for attendance at statewide association conferences.

The county board compensation bill has been drafted and is to be introduced early next week.

The LSIC measure and the innovation districts bills are being drafted as well.

Legislative Steering Committee members include:

  • Pat Murphy (Berkeley), WVSBA Vice President; former legislator and county commissioner
  • Dave Mullens (Clay), Region 4 Co-Regional Director
  • Frank Devono Jr. (Harrison), President Harrison County Board of Education
  • Steve Chancey (Jackson), former association president
  • Kathy Skinner (Jefferson), President of the Jefferson County Board of Education
  • Lori E. Kestner (Marshall), WVSBA President
  • Sabrina Grace (Mingo), President of the Mingo County Board of Education. The House Education Vice Chair hails from Mingo County
  • Ron Lytle (Monongalia), President of the Monongalia County Board of Education
  • Eric Lyda (Morgan), newly-elected member of the Morgan County Board of Education
  • Zach Abraham (Ohio), President of the Ohio County Board of Education
  • Gregory Boggs (Roane), WVSBA Region 5 Co-regional director
  • Rick Olcott (Wood), Wood County Board of Education president and former WVSBA President
  • Michelle Chappell (Hancock), President Hancock County Board of Education and Region 6 Co-regional director
  • James D. “J.D.” Wilkins (Pendleton), President Pendleton County Board of Education; WVSBA Director At-large
  • Jared Billings (Mason), Mason County Board of Education President; WVSBA Region 2 Co-regional Director
  • Jim J. Crawford (Kanawha), Member Kanawha County Board of Education and association past president
  • Pat Gray (Fayette), President Fayette County Board of Education
  • Marie Hamrick (Raleigh), Board Member Raleigh County Board of Education
  • Ryan White (Kanawha), President Kanawha County Board of Education / WVSBA President-elect

Paul Hardesty, who had served as a member of the committee, will be sworn-in today as a state senate appointee. Gov. Jim Justice appointed Hardesty yesterday to fill the state senate seat vacated through resignation of former state senator Richard Ojeda who resigned to become a U.S. Presidential candidate.

Additionally, Kestner, who serves as a member of the committee, will appoint another member of the Logan Country Board of Education to assume in Hardesty’s stead.