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Bring questions to education forum

Do you want to know more about how House Bill 206 will change schools in Randolph County? Come to the Education Forum at Kump Education Center across from Kroger at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 10. You will have an opportunity to question your newest representative to WV House of Delegates, Randolph County’s school board vice president; and the presidents of two local teacher professional organizations.

Although public charter schools are the most controversial part of HB 206, we are not likely to see a charter school in Randolph County for at least six years. More immediate policy changes will affect local funding for personnel, programs, property, and transportation. When charter schools are created, these changes will affect public charter schools as well as existing schools.

I have the following questions concerning HB 206: Will teachers and service personnel get a real pay increase? How will their retirement and benefits be affected? Will mathematics and special education teachers be paid more because there is greater demand for them? How will local school boards supervise Local School Improvement Councils more effectively? Will school personnel have training to use educational technology effectively? How will faculties be train to meet the needs of children in the opioid crisis?

After reading HB 206 and the Executive Summary of the bill, I have more questions than answers.

I understand that the Public School Support Program [PSSP] offers a number of demographic funding formulas that are designed to provide fair share allowances to each county school system according to the number of students enrolled in that system.

County districts are divided into four categories by student enrollment per square mile: Sparse (less than 5 students / sq. mile), Low (5-10), Medium (10-20), and High (20 plus).

Randolph County is in the low population range, and we have 4,530 square miles of land area — the most in the state. Serving such a large area causes many funding problems. We get 72.30 service personnel/1,000 students enrolled, and Charleston gets 72.60/per 1,000 students, but 60% of an overly busy person is not a great deal better than 30%.

The formulas may seem fair when they are applied to large numbers of people, but they will not work in remote areas with sparse populations. State aid will be distributed in the form of Block Grants under HB 206. If school systems are proactive and apply effectively, they will do very well with Block Grants, but competing for grants will be more difficult for small systems where administrators and faculty members are wearing too many hats to fulfill the percentages of different personnel assignments. That is the time when being a percentage of a person becomes very stressful.