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What does bill mean for education?

Kump Corner

You are invited to a public forum to discuss the omnibus education legislation passed in July 2019.

Randolph County Democratic Women will offer this opportunity for the public to learn more about House Bill 206 at 6 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 10 at Kump Education Center located across from Kroger.

The panel will include Cody Thompson, Randolph County delegate to the West Virginia House; Rachel Anger, vice president of the Randolph County Board of Education; Fred Albert, president of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT-WV); and Dale Lee, president of the WV Education Association (WVEA). I will serve as moderator for this forum.

HB 206 reminds readers of the old adage that making laws is like making sausage. There was a good deal of cutting and mixing in the process of writing this piece of education legislation.

Nevertheless, extensive legal definitions in the text help to explain what people and programs may be directly affected by the legal changes being made.

The most controversial proposal in HB 206 is the possibility of having three public charter schools in West Virginia by 2021. However, this proposal is only developed on pages 41-74 of the 141 page document. The beginning and end of the bill introduce changes in funding formulas for personnel, programs, and property.

When charter schools are created, these changes will affect public charter schools as well as existing schools.

According to HB 206, county school boards will be responsible for approving applications to start public charter schools. Local school boards will need to increase appropriate oversight of all local school improvement council (LSIC) goals, proposals, projects and assessments for the effectiveness of all schools within their county.

Existing private and religious schools will not be able to become public charter schools, but public schools that establish effective local school governance may be able to apply and become public charter schools.

Outside groups may organize and write a proposal to start a public charter school, and they may have access to public properties that are not being used for other purposes at or below fair market rental rates.

County school boards will have the ultimate responsibility for monitoring the quality of public charter schools.

A new school board effectiveness assessment will require school boards to focus more on LSICs.

Focusing on the local governance for public schools becomes a central issue in HB 206, and it will make or break West Virginia public charter schools.

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