(01/28/2016)
CHARTER SCHOOLS

A controversial bills from last year's legislative session is on the front burner, taking up a bill allowing for public charter schools in West Virginia. Currently 43 other states and the District of Columbia have public charter schools.

Delegate Paul Espinosa (R-Jefferson) says the bill allows for some flexibility.

"It really is about choice. Since I have been elected to the legislature, I've very much wanted to advocate and introduce legislation that expands school choice," he said.

Opponents of charter schools argue that having them in place could decrease funding to county school systems, many of which are already underfunded.

Espinosa didn't see competition as a bad thing when it comes to education.

"Why should not local parents, local teachers and local administrators at the county level make that determination as to what education delivery program best fits the needs of students?," he asked.

In the 2015 Legislative Session, a bill that would authorized county school boards to form charter schools in West Virginia nearly passed in the House of Delegates after passing the Senate, but died without a vote at the end of the 60-day session.

EASING HOME SCHOOL RESTRICTIONS

For the second consecutive year, state lawmakers are seeking to ease restrictions on home-school students in West Virginia.

A bill would remove the requirement that home-school students secure a GED diploma to qualify for the Promise Scholarship, which provides $4,750 a year in college tuition.

The House of Delegates and the Senate unanimously passed the legislation last year, but Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin vetoed the bill, saying it could entice students to drop out of high school.

According to this year's bill, students could qualify for the Promise Scholarship if they score in the 85th percentile on a college entrance exam, like the ACT or SAT.

That would be four points higher than the ACT score that public school students must achieve to qualify for Promise. Public school students also must graduate with a 3.0 grade-point average to qualify.

Another bill under consideration this year would ease home-school testing requirements and limit paperwork that parents must submit to county school officials.

Proponents say those who support the bill said home-schooled students typically outperform public school students on standardized tests.

REDUCING TEACHERS/STATE EMPLOYEES HEALTH BENEFITS "PERFECT STORM"

A combination of no salary increases and $120 million in health insurance benefits cuts would create a "perfect storm" for teachers in West Virginia, said Michael Martirano, the state superintendent of schools.

said Monday. Martirano said West Virginia is number 47 in the nation for starting teachers' salaries, way behind the starting line to compete.

County school systems are struggling to fill teacher vacancies.

"If there's no pay increase for teachers and there's a cut to PEIA, that's a double impact to teachers' pocketbooks," Martirano said.

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin has proposed the passage of a bill to increase state tobacco taxes, part of which would be used to fund PEIA. That plan has not drawn strong support from legislative leaders.

PASSING STOP SCHOOL BUS FINES

It could soon be a lot harder to get away with illegally passing a school bus in the state of West Virginia, if a new bill passes.

The problem has become severe particularly in urban areas.

The penalties for illegally passing a school bus already are $150 to $500 fine and up to six months in jail for a first offense, $500 and up to six months in jail for a second offense, and a fine of $500 and mandatory jail sentence of 24 hours to six months for a third offense.

If the driver of the car causes injury to someone while illegally passing a school bus, the crime is a felony punishable by one to three years in prison and a fine of $500 to $2,000.

The penalty would go up to one to 10 years in prison and a fine of $1,000 to $3,000 if someone killed.


Hur Herald ©from Sunny Cal
The information on these pages, to the extent the law allows, remains the exclusive property of Bob Weaver and The Hur Herald. information cannot be not be used in any type of commercial endeavor, or used on a web site without the express permission of the owner. Hur Herald published printed editions 1996-1999, Online ©Hur Herald Publishing, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019