Daily Legislative Update: Wednesday, March 8, 2023
S. B. 99 relates to permitting boards of education to meet and explore the feasibility of consolidating school districts or sharing of services. The bill passed and has completed legislative action.
Com. Sub. for S. B. 688 allows BOE to hire retired teachers to assist with tutoring. The bill passed and has completed legislative action.
The House will reconvene at 5:00 PM this evening.
S. B. 625 requires certain transcripts to be accepted as record of student's performance for placement in micro school programs.
Com. Sub. for S. B. 667 requires periodic performance audits of WV Secondary Schools Athletic Commission.
Com. Sub. for S. B. 121 creates the Student Journalist Press Freedom Restoration Act, to provide for legislative findings, to require that the West Virginia Department of Education and the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission allow for the free expression of student journalists on campuses of middle schools, high schools, and colleges and universities, to provide a framework and parameters for free expression, and to allow for injunctive relief in the event that this article is violated.
Com. Sub. for S. B. 461 relates to WV public employees grievance procedure. The bill initially proposed several changes to the grievance procedure, including extending timelines for steps and requiring a notarized grievance form upon filing. The most concerning of the changes was a provision where the losing party may be required to pay the legal costs of the winning party. The employer (county BOEs) would have the unfair advantage of always paying their share on the taxpayer dime, whereas employees (or their representative organization) would shoulder that cost privately. An amendment was offered to stipulate the financial burden would only be placed on the losing party for appeals to the WV Intermediate Court of Appeals or WV Supreme Court. Additionally, the amendment stipulates that an employee who lost at the Intermediate Court of Appeals or Supreme Court level would not be required to pay for the county BOE legal fees if the employee had been the prevailing party at any point in the lower level of the process. This amendment was adopted. Additionally, amendments were adopted that removed the requirement that grievance filings be notarized, and removed the prohibition on filing grievances during a declared state of emergency. These amendments make this a much better bill for employees.
Comm Sub for S.B. 422 requires public schools to publish curriculum online. The bill states curriculum and a syllabus (including any books used) must be posted on the county BOE website only at beginning of each new school year. Classroom teachers are not responsible for this task.
Eng. Com. Sub. for H. B. 2820 - To provide HOPE Scholarship recipients with the ability to play sports. The bill was deferred to the foot of the bill /first reading.
Eng. Com. Sub. for H. B. 3271 increases monitoring of special education classrooms by adding audio recording requirements in restrooms of self-contained classrooms, with a clause to allow parents to opt out for their child.
Eng. Com. Sub. for H. B. 2346 declares a shortage of qualified bus operators and allowing retired bus operators to accept employment.
Eng. Com. Sub. for H. B. 2890 modifies student discipline sections of current law. It inserts language that appears to strengthen the teacher’s ability to remove disruptive student’s from the classroom. It also permits counties to develop (with teacher input) a tiered system of disciplinary consequences.
Eng. Com. Sub. for H. B. 3084 permits public charter schools to access School Safety funds for safety and security upgrades.
Eng. Com. Sub. for H. B. 3224 adds West Virginia Junior College to the list of eligible institutions that accept PROMISE scholarship recipients.
Eng. H. B. 3441 revises the training requirements for members of the Higher Education Policy Commission, Council for Community and Technical College Education and the institutional governing boards.
H.B. 3555 relates to student purchase and refunds of course materials at higher education institutions, and prohibits an institution from assessing a new or increased charge for required course materials to a student unless the institution allows the student to opt of the way the institution permits for the student to obtain the course materials and receive a refund for course materials already purchased. New language states that institutions may work with booksellers, publishers, or other third parties to offer a courseware and book fee at a lump sum or per credit hour amount, provided that an opt-out option is offered to students in advance of the start of each academic term.
H.B. 3035 originally related generally to high-quality education programs and school operations. A strike and insert amendment offered by the committee stripped all language from HB 3035 and replaced it with the provisions of S.B. 274 and H.B. 3293. S.B. 274 was the Senate’s comprehensive education bill addressing early classroom teaching needs (known as the Third Grade Success Act) while H.B. 3293 established requirements for the state educational agency and local educational agencies to support students in the public school system who exhibit indicators of risk for, or who have been diagnosed with, dyslexia and dyscalculia. (On second reading, was referenced to the Finance Committee, where it passed today without amendment)
H.B. 3369 creates a School Safety Unit within the Division of Protective Services. The main provision of this bill will establish a School Safety Unit within the Division of Protective Services. Officers shall be assigned to the School Safety Unit at the discretion of the director. The officers assigned to the School Safety Unit shall primarily be charged to make school safety inspections and to make recommendations to appropriate county school superintendents, principals, or other school administrators regarding school safety. The officers assigned to the School Safety Unit shall also be authorized to respond to and investigate all school safety matters, in consultation with county boards of education; provided, that any officer of the School Safety Unit shall have statewide jurisdiction and powers of general law enforcement and arrest for violations of law committed in their presence. (On second reading, was referenced to the Finance Committee, where it passed today without amendment)
The Senate will reconvene at 4:30 PM.
Senate Finance Committee
Senate Finance met today and advanced H.B. 3035 and H.B. 3369 without amendment. These two bills (see last two bills above) were on second reading today.
House Finance Committee
The House Finance Committee at 3 PM, with a lengthy agenda. S.B. 47 and S.B. 274 are at the very bottom of that agenda, and it is doubtful the committee gets to them before the floor session reconvenes at 5:00 PM. S.B. 47 is the resurrected Charter School Stimulus Fund bill and S.B. 274 is the Third Grade Success Act that was amended in its entirety into H.B. 3035.