(01/11/2007)
Gov. Joe Manchin, during his state-of-the-state address Wednesday, said he plans to work with the Jobs Cabinet - business, community and education leaders - on a project called the 21st Century Learning initiative.

He will establish a public outreach campaign to emphasize the value of education and the importance of pursuing a college degree.

The state lags far behind in college-attendance.

Manchin says he will create, by executive order, the Governor's Workforce Planning Council, whose goal is to identify workforce needs, communicate these needs to two-year colleges, and ensure that academic programs are prepared to meet those needs.

He also announced a new program called SEEDS, which stands for Student Educational and Economic Development Success.

This public-private partnership between the state and the Education Alliance is to transform struggling schools through the use of well-established business practices. Those include time management, goal setting and performance measures.

PAY RAISES

Manchin says West Virginia educators, state employees and legislators all deserve bigger paychecks.

He says he wants to ensure that no full-time teacher in the state makes less than $30,000 a year, including teachers who are just starting out.

Currently, first-year teachers make about $25,000 a year.

The average salary for all levels of experience is about $39,500.

Manchin is also proposing a two-point-five percent, one-time employment incentive payment for state employees and school service personnel. These payments would range from $600 to $1200.

He is also suggesting raising legislators salaries, not having a raise since 1994.

SCHOOL SAFETY

Manchin wants the state Legislature to provide ten million dollars to county school boards to better monitor the people coming into public schools.

Through his proposed School Access Safety matching grant initiative, systems could install security upgrades so they can be prepared when an unknown person approaches a school.

The safety project would be conducted by the School Building Authority.

The governor also wants a Web-based resource to provide information such as school floor plans to emergency responders during a crisis.

During his state-of-the-state speech, reacting to requests, he wants to work more closely with teachers to address the growing problem of school bullies.


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