WVSBA The Legislature

February 13, 2009 - Volume 29 / Issue 1

Overview Info


Day of Session 3rd
Days Remaining 57
Bills Introduced:
(Including agency/department rules bills)


Quote:"We’re still here. We’d like to have a pay raise…” – Karen Guminey, president of the Monongalia County Schools Service Personnel Association commenting on the Governor’s State of the State Address. In his address, the governor proposed no specific pay raises for teachers or state employees.



By Jim Wallace

Gov. Manchin had a bigger share of good fortune and accomplishments in his State of the State address Wednesday than most of his fellow governors have been able to proclaim this year. But he tempered his remarks with concern that the good times are not likely to last in West Virginia as the nation moves through its deepest recession in many years.

That concern about darker days to come was reflected in his proposals for education, such as the issue of pay for teachers. During the four years of Manchin’s first term, he and the Legislature were able to provide teachers and state employees more than $300 million in pay increases. Having three straight years of record state revenue collections helped make that and other actions, like lowering taxes, possible, he said.

“This is the largest commitment to salary increases for state workers during a four-year term in the history of our state,” Manchin told the Legislature. “In addition, as part of their standard incremental pay package, all West Virginia teachers with between one and 35 years of service will have their salaries automatically increased this year by a minimum of $587.”

But beyond that, the governor is not promising pay increases this year. Although West Virginia remains one of just several states working with a budget surplus this year, that surplus has been dwindling as the national economy declines. Manchin said he wants to avoid the steps other governors are using to battle deficits – employee furloughs, cuts to essential government services, cuts in education budgets and tax increases.

“That is why I cannot include any base-building salary increases in this year’s budget,” he told lawmakers. “I will, however, ask for the ability to share any additional money that we may have with our teachers, service personnel and state employees, if financial conditions improve enough for us to afford to do so.”

After the speech, Manchin said he had wanted to give school employees another pay raise, but his economic forecasters told him that wouldn’t be wise.

“I had been planning all along to put 3 percent in [for pay raises]. It disappeared in the last six to eight weeks.” – Gov. Manchin“I had been planning all along to put 3 percent in,” he said. “It disappeared in the last six to eight weeks. So we’re watching everything. I can’t in good conscience put in a pay raise that builds the base.”

In other words, the governor does not want to give teachers and other workers pay increases that the state must continue to fund in the years ahead. But he said he would consider giving them one-time bonuses if enough money is available later in the year.

“Sure, if we have anything,” Manchin said. “We’ve given four years of the most unprecedented pay increases in the history of West Virginia, and I want to continue as much as humanly possible. But I can’t be looking at a cliff and say it’s time to jump.”

Nevertheless, unions representing teachers and school service personnel are hoping for more. Dale Lee, president of the West Virginia Education Association, said his union is disappointed with the financial aspects of the governor’s proposals. The raises of the past few years have helped West Virginia teachers’ pay move up in national rankings, but he is afraid the state will slip back if that pay is not increased further.

“We must continue to keep the best and brightest teachers in West Virginia, and we have to be competitive with the surrounding states,” Lee said. “Many of those have built-in raises in bargained contracts. We must continue to do those types of things in West Virginia so that we don’t lose our best and brightest to states around us.”

Lee said he is aware that it is difficult to ask for pay raises for teachers at a time when many other people are losing their jobs. But he added that the effort to create new jobs in West Virginia requires an educated workforce.

“And with that workforce, a key component is having the quality teacher in front of those kids,” Lee said. “We can’t lose sight of losing teachers to bordering states and everywhere else to other professions with that economy. We have to recognize that this is the time for us to put education as the priority for our kids and move that forward.”

Judy Hale, president of the West Virginia chapter of the American Federation of Teachers, had a similar reaction to Manchin’s speech.

“We, of course, had hoped that he would find some money in the budget for a pay raise, because our salaries are just not competitive,” she said. “As a result, we can’t get highly qualified teachers in our classrooms. But we are hopeful that we’re going to be able to find some money in the budget. It is not the time to disinvest in education.”

 “It is not the time to disinvest in education.” – Judy Hale, WV-AFTLike Lee, Hale said she sympathized with people having difficulties in the faltering national economy. “But we think there is money within the education budget to redirect so that we can have highly qualified teachers in the classroom,” she said.

Bob Brown, executive secretary of the West Virginia School Service Personnel Association, also said he wants to take a close look at the budget to see if some spare money could be found for pay raises. He was aware that Manchin had intended to propose another pay raise but pulled back because of the economic decline.

“We’ve talked with the governor about that,” Brown said. “We sort of have a difference of opinion. I respect the governor’s position, but if, in fact, that’s what the Legislature chooses to do, to wait and see if we have money, then they ought to apply it across the board, not in a bonus.”

Brown added that he hopes the economy will show signs of recovery in the months ahead, which could make it easier for lawmakers to consider pay raises.

House Education Chairwoman Mary Poling, D-Barbour, said she hopes that money from the federal stimulus bill would free up some state funds so that money for pay raises becomes available. But she said funding pay raises just for teachers and other school employees wouldn’t be enough.

“All state employees have to be considered when you talk about pay raises,” Poling said.


Proposal would provide more flexibility in school calendar

Although Manchin did not propose a pay raise for education employees, he did make other education-related proposals in his State of the State address. “We must do a better job of educating our children, starting from the ground up, from pre-school through college,” he said.

One change he proposed was to allow more flexibility in the school calendar so that all students receive the 180 days of instruction they are supposed to receive. Many school districts have had trouble doing that, because state law prohibits the school year from starting before Aug. 26 and ending after June 9. When snow and other conditions force school days to be cancelled, which has occurred often this snowy winter, many school districts run out of time to make up missed days before June 9 arrives.

“I’m presenting a simple fix that will help ensure that students receive 180 days of instruction by extending the school calendar on both ends,” Manchin told the Legislature. “This bill will require county school systems to begin the instructional term five days earlier and will give schools the flexibility to extend the calendar if necessary to meet the 180-day requirement.”

Lee said the WVEA recognizes the problems with the current school calendar and is willing to work with the governor and the Legislature to fix it. But Hale had a slightly different reaction.

“I haven’t seen the bill, so I’ve got to take a look at that and see what it really says,” she said. “I don’t think our teachers are objecting to teach more days, but they would expect to get paid for it.”

Hale said extending the period for the school calendar could be detrimental to many teachers and school service personnel who need to work summer jobs.

“If you’re going to take five days away from people, you ought to pay them for it.” – Bob Brown, School Service Personnel AssociationBrown said he didn’t understand the governor’s proposal fully, but “if you’re going to take five days away from people, you ought to pay them for it. We’re hopeful that we find money, if they’re going to extend the calendar, to pay people for those five days.”

 Poling said she wasn’t sure that just opening up the beginning and ending days of the school calendar would solve the problem.

Manchin wants School Innovation Zones

Another of Manchin’s proposals received more favorable support. He proposed a School Innovation Zone Bill to give teachers, principals and school communities more flexibility to meet students’ diverse needs. “This bill will allow school staff to implement improvement strategies that currently are restrained by state board of education policies or antiquated state law,” he said.

Lee said that teachers would like to work with such a proposal.

“Getting ideas in the hands of teachers and letting teachers make decisions about changes in public education is always a good thing,” he said. “It will improve what they see as their everyday life and things that need to be done in the classroom, so that’s very important.”

Moving on would be tougher for third- and eighth-graders

Manchin also made a proposal to require students at the third-grade and eighth-grade levels to meet proficiency standards to advance to the next grade levels. He said those grades are “two of the most critical periods in their educational development.” Students who fail to meet the required standards would have to work in after-school programs or summer school to reach the standards or be held back for a year.

“We can no longer allow children who do not have the critical skill sets they require to advance to the next level,” Manchin said. “It is unfair to their parents, it is unfair to their classmates and, most of all, it is unfair to them.”

Lee was pleased with that proposal. Hale said, “That’s a great idea and something that our students, particularly poorer students, really need.”

Poling also like the proposal. She said, “I think it’s great to put some accountability on the students and to provide programs for which they can come up to the standards, and I think it’s great that it’s going to be after school and summer school. He said that there would be additional resources. I’m hoping we’re talking about funding to pay staff and provide transportation and do the things that county boards can’t do now that want to have after-school programs.”

-- Jim Wallace is a former government reporter for the Charleston Daily Mail and former news director of West Virginia Public Radio. He now works for TSG Consulting in Charleston and writes for several national and West Virginia publications.

By Jim Wallace

The West Virginia Department of Education is asking lawmakers for a budget that Superintendent Steve Paine said will help “raise the bar” on educational achievement.

“We have heard that you wanted a globally competitive system,” he told lawmakers. “We have responded.”

That response, which he made at a meeting of the Joint Standing Committee on Education, includes revised content standards and objectives, including a curriculum that is internationally benchmarked, Paine said. “They’re as rigorous as any standards in any country,” he said.

The state department is committed to closing the gap between the knowledge and skills students learn in school and the knowledge and skills they need for the 21st century workplace, Paine said. That means placing an emphasis on such core subjects as math, science, social studies, English and languages, he said, as well as teaching global awareness, civics, business, finance, economics, problem-solving and analytical skills.

Paine said it’s important for the system to invest in teachers, because teachers want professional development and time to talk with each other to reflect on best practices. He called that “building the back porch,” comparing it to old days when neighbors shared their thoughts in conversations on their back porches.

As he spoke on Tuesday, it was too soon to tell what might be available for education in the federal stimulus bill, but Paine said he wanted to be ready to use any such money that might become available.

“On paper, we have a system now that is designed to perform on a very high level.” – state Superintendent Steve Paine

“On paper, we have a system now that is designed to perform on a very high level,” he said, but it is important to invest in human capital development for that potential to be realized.

In regard to the efficiency of the system’s operations, Paine said there has been a slight increase in enrollment of 0.8 percent over the last five years, although enrollment is down 16 percent from the 1987-1988 school year. During the 2008-2009 school year, total enrollment was 280,413.

The slight increase in recent years is due partly to the incorporation of programs for four-year-olds, but Paine said the student population also has leveled off in most of the state. The notable exception, he said, is the Northern Panhandle, which is suffering from economic decline.


Staffing levels have declined significantly over two decades

Professional personnel allowed in the School Aid Formula declined by 15.5 percent since 1987-1988 to a level of 20,786 for the 2009-2010 school year. Service personnel allowed in the School Aid Formula declined by 15.6 percent since 1987-1988 to a level of 12,487 in the 2009-2010 school year. During that same time, the number of administrators eligible to be employed with state aid has declined 28.1 percent to 1,337.

The department’s budget presentation also included a graph showing that education’s portion of total state appropriations, both from general revenue and lottery revenue, has declined from 56.86 percent in 1992-1993 to 43.42 percent in 2008-2009.

“We’ve done our share to tighten our belts,” Paine said.

“We’ve done our share to tighten our belts,” Paine said. But he noted that the percentage is starting to climb again because of recent changes made by the Legislature.

Terry Harless, executive director of the department’s Office of Internal Operations, said the department’s total budget proposal for fiscal year 2010 is $2.4 billion. Of that, $1.89 billion would come from the general revenue fund.

 The budget includes $17,124,448 for the department’s operations, which is $19,217 more than in the current fiscal year. Public school support programs would get $14,837,566, which would be $3,698,867 less. Other remitted funds, which include the teacher mentor program, national teacher certification, technology repair and modernization, high acuity specialty needs, high acuity health care needs, school access safety and other programs, would get $8,480,000. That is $495,402 more than in the current fiscal year.

The total for those items is $40,442,014, a drop of $3,184,248 from the current fiscal year. Other portions of the budget similarly show increases in some items and decreases in others.


School Aid Formula gets adjustments

In a presentation on the School Aid Formula, Joe Panetta, executive director of the Office of School Finance, said the allowance for Step 1 to pay the basic salaries and equity funding for professional educators employed by county school boards is $844,429,198. That allowance is based on 20,462 professional educators, which is a decrease of 57 from the current fiscal year.

Panetta said that decrease is a result of the transfer of 40 percent of counselors and nurses to Step 5 for professional student support personnel. He said this is the second year of a five-year phase-in of substantial changes in the School Aid Formula.

Step 2 for basic salaries and state equity for service personnel is allocated $278,695,752. That allowance is based on 12,488 employees, an increase of 44.

Step 3 for fixed charges in paying employee benefits for professional educators and service personnel would get $102,684,546. That includes funding the Federal Insurance Contributions Act tax (for Social Security and Medicare) at 7.65 percent, unemployment compensation at 0.04 percent and workers’ compensation premiums at 1.17 percent. Panetta noted that the workers’ compensation rate has been going down the past few years and is down from 1.31 percent last year.

The budget for student transportation operating costs and replacement of the school bus fleet over a 12-year cycle, Step 4, is $71,357,448. Allowances for school districts are divided into four groups based on student population density. The percentages of actual operating costs are: 95 percent for sparse-density counties, 92.5 percent for low-density counties, 90 percent for medium-density counties and 87.5 percent for high-density counties.

Panetta said districts can get an additional allowance of 10 percent for use of alternative fuel, which generally is bio-diesel fuel. He said there are some school systems that would like to take advantage of that provision but have been unable to do so, because bio-diesel fuel is not readily available in their areas.

Step 5 for professional student support personnel would get $15,842,837 for 324 counselors and nurses, an increase of 165. Once again, that reflects a transfer of 40 percent of such personnel from Step 1 in the five-year phase-in.

Panetta said the allowance for Step 6 for current expenses, substitutes and faculty senates has remained the same at $148,912,185.

Step 7 for improvement of instructional programs would get $38,090,962. It includes instructional improvements, 21st century technology replacement and advanced placement programs. The amount for the first two items is the current year’s appropriation plus 15 percent of the growth in the local share for each.

Allocations for Step 8, the local share, and Step 9, adjustments in the local share, won’t be available until early March, when certificates of assessed valuations for fiscal year 2010 are received from county assessors.

The department has allocated $213,776,225 for the employers’ share of premium costs for the Public Employees Insurance Agency. The average rate for computing the allowance for the next fiscal year is $6,434.80.

An allocation of $23,308,825 is set aside to meet debt service requirements on bonds issued by the School Building Authority prior to January 1, 1994.

The allowance for the Teachers’ Retirement System totals $383,529,000. That includes $52,149,000 normal cost and $331,380,000 for the unfunded past service liability.


WVU Tech suffers from enrollment drops and vacant positions

Lawmakers spent the rest of the committee meeting receiving a performance review of West Virginia University Institute of Technology. Gail Higgins of the Legislative Auditor’s Office told lawmakers that overall enrollment at the school declined by 28 percent from 1991 to 2007, but the decline for engineering students was 49 percent.

Engineering has traditionally been one of Tech’s strongest programs, but Higgins said many students from southern West Virginia who are interested in engineering are choosing instead to go to WVU’s main campus in Morgantown. Since 2007, Tech has been a division of WVU.

“Increased enrollment in all programs is essential at WVU Tech if it is to survive,” Higgins said, adding that enrollment must be doubled for the school to generate the money it needs to operate.

The report also criticized Tech for having vacancies in several key positions and for granting so many housing waivers that less than half of the students in residence halls were paying full price. Provost Scott Hurst said Tech officials are working hard to fill top positions, such as the dean of engineering.

The benefits of having divisional status as part of WVU have not been realized yet, he said, but eventually it should save Tech about $1 million a year. 

-- Jim Wallace is a former government reporter for the Charleston Daily Mail and former news director of West Virginia Public Radio. He now works for TSG Consulting in Charleston and writes for several national and West Virginia publications.


By Jim Wallace

Cal Kent of Marshall University’s Center for Business and Economic Research, has suggested to lawmakers that they might want to consider a new approach for supporting school districts with low student enrollment and sparse population densities. His study of the subject was required by legislation passed last year.

Currently, the state uses a complicated, three-factor formula to compensate eight rural districts for their small enrollment levels. Those counties are: Calhoun, Doddridge, Gilmer, Pendleton, Pleasants, Pocahontas, Tucker and Wirt.

Under the formula, Kent told the Legislative Oversight Commission on Education Accountability, school districts that are comparable in their actual enrollments don’t come out with the same adjusted enrollments. Specifically, Wirt and Tucker counties, which are smaller in geographic size, don’t fare as well as counties that are larger geographically, because student density per square mile is the determining factor, he said.

“Low enrollment and low density maybe shouldn’t be in the same formula,” Kent said. “Are there efficiencies in lower population districts that should be considered?”

It might be useful to look at how other states deal with this problem, he said.

“This formula is a political formula. It doesn’t get to the heart of the problem.” – Senate Education Chairman Bob Plymale

“This formula is a political formula,” Senate Education Chairman Bob Plymale, D-Wayne, said. “It doesn’t get to the heart of the problem.”

Because transportation is such a big cost for rural districts, he suggested considering regional transportation systems that would cross county lines. Plymale also suggested that some small classes of different grade levels could be combined. Kent responded that other states are doing that.

“I don’t have a problem coming up with rational solutions,” Plymale said. “But it may require doing something different than what we have done.”

For example, he said, using 1,400 as the level to which a school district’s enrollment should be adjusted might be reconsidered. Plymale said 1,400 was “just plucked out of the air.” He suggest developing a two-pronged approach, although he did not offer specifics.

House Education Chairwoman Mary Poling, D-Barbour, said the 1,400 level was justified by the Department of Education. She asked Kent if he found it faulty.

Kent’s response was mixed. He asked, “What do you do with those significantly below 1,400 compared to those close to the 1,400 level? Smaller enrollment districts have much greater problems.” He also said other aspects of the formula seem arbitrary.

Delegate Brady Paxton, D-Putnam, asked whether the report provided some basis for regionalization of school districts. “Yes, for some functions,” Kent replied.

Plymale suggested there might be some merit to sending students to the schools closest to their homes, even if that would mean crossing county lines. “That’s how other states do it,” Kent responded.


Higher educations officials ask little from lawmakers

The rest of the meeting was devoted to higher education issues. Jim Skidmore, chancellor for the Community and Technical College System, presented what he called a “very limited” list of recommendations for statutory changes during this year’s legislative session:

  1. Legislation that would maximize the number of returning military veterans enrolling in higher education or pursuing advanced degrees;
  2. Enacting the recommendations of the legislative Committee on Higher Education Capital Projects and Facilities;
  3. Enacting recommendations from the personnel study undertaken pursuant to W.Va. Code 18B-1B-13;
  4. Legislation to implement House Bill 3215;
  5. Resolution requiring a study of the net cost of attending community and technical colleges and the availability of state-administered financial aid for community and technical college students; and
  6. Implementing the Learn and Earn Program, an initiative to make higher education more affordable, especially for young adults who might not have attended college directly from high school, as well as the “middle group” of high school students who need postsecondary education if they are to have successful careers. The program allows students to take courses in a program, most likely a technical field, and be employed through a co-op or apprenticeship program by a sponsoring company. The cost of the student’s salary is paid 50 percent by the state and 50 percent by the employer.

Brian Noland, chancellor of the Higher Education Policy Commission also presented a few recommendations for statutory changes. The first three were identical to the first three presented by Skidmore. In addition, Noland proposed clarification of the tuition and fee waiver process and approval of tuition and fees.

-- Jim Wallace is a former government reporter for the Charleston Daily Mail and former news director of West Virginia Public Radio. He now works for TSG Consulting in Charleston and writes for several national and West Virginia publications.


By Jim Wallace

The Legislature is expected to address several health care initiatives during this year’s regular session, and some of them are likely to have implications for school districts. One example is a bill developed through legislative interim meetings over the last several months by Select Committee D, which was assigned to consider health care reform issues.

The bill would establish the Governor’s Office of Health System Improvement, although the legislative staff lawyers who developed the bill are recommending changing that name to the Governor’s Office of Health Enhancement and Lifestyle Planning so that its acronym would be “GOHELP.”

One of the duties of the director of that office would be to coordinate with the state board of education for:

  1. The preservation and allocation of recess time away from instruction and separate from physical education classes in the state schools;
  2. Continuing education for school food personnel and a career hierarchy for food personnel that offers rewards for continuing education hours and credits;
  3. School-based physical education coordinators; and
  4. Placement of a dietician in each regional education service area throughout the state.

The director also would be expected to implement school-based initiatives to achieve greater dietary consistency in West Virginia’s school system and to gain greater physical fitness from students.

-- Jim Wallace is a former government reporter for the Charleston Daily Mail and former news director of West Virginia Public Radio. He now works for TSG Consulting in Charleston and writes for several national and West Virginia publications.


Administrative Perspective

By Martha Dean, Ed.D.

As the legislative session begins, I would like to note that, although there are a few new legislators, most of the leadership from the last two years is intact.  The Education Committee chairs are still in place, but Sen. Larry Edgell, D-Wetzel, is no longer vice-chairman of Senate Education.  That position is being filled by Erik Wells, D-Kanawha. Sen. Edgell is the majority whip this year. Both Finance chairs remain the same, but Brent Boggs, D-Braxton, vice chairman in House Finance last year, has been named House majority leader.

At Wednesday’s State of the State address, Gov. Joe Manchin reminded educators that, during his administration, more than $300 million was committed for pay increases for teachers and other state employees. Not only that, but most teachers will automatically receive a minimum of $587 raise in the next fiscal year. Manchin then indicated that he has no plans to unnecessarily increase the state budget or expand the size of state government. 

“We’ve been very disciplined and, under my watch, we will not write checks that our children can’t cash,” he said. This statement brought applause from the audience.

The governor addressed the inadequacy of current law to enable counties to meet the minimum 180 days of instruction.  He further indicated he was introducing a bill that would give school systems the ability to start school five days earlier and the flexibility to extend the calendar, if necessary, to meet the 180-day requirement.

The governor also addressed the issue of students not acquiring the basic skills at what he termed “critical periods in educational development” or the third and eighth grade levels. He proposed not letting the students progress until they had mastered the necessary skills through a variety of measures, including summer school, after-school programs, or being retained. This particular proposal appeared to come as a surprise to several individuals to whom I spoke.

The time during this first week has been devoted to getting organized. Next week, I expect more action on the bills that have been introduced already. The committees will begin to sort out those to be brought before the entire committees for consideration. Next week in my article, I will summarize the West Virginia Association of School Administrators’ legislative agenda. The West Virginia School Personnel Association also has been working hard on proposals for change to the personnel laws. WVASA is on record as supporting these changes, as well as our entire legislative agenda.

 – Martha Dean  is executive director of the West Virginia School Administrators Association. She is a former superintendent and Regional Education Service Agency (RESA) executive director.


WVSBA Briefs

West Virginia School Board Association President Rick Snuffer (Raleigh) urges all county board members and superintendents to attend WVSBA’s Winter Conference. The Conference, which coincides with visitations to the Capitol for county board members and superintendents, will be held March 13-14 in Charleston.

“As of now, we have about 175 people signed up,” Snuffer said. “We expect some more.”

In addition to the Capitol visitations, all members of the Senate and House Education Committees will be invited to hear Dr. Curtis Johnson discuss “innovation zones,” based on the book Johnson co-authored, “Disrupting Class: How Disruptive Innovation Will Change the Way the World Learns.”

“I heard Dr. Johnson speak at the October [2008] Create WV Conference, and he is phenomenal,” Snuffer said. “He really gets you thinking, and the governor will be introducing an ‘innovation zones’ bill. As you know, there has been considerable interest about this topic among the membership.”

There was a considerable review of the topic at WVSBA’s Conference ’08.

Snuffer said another portion of the agenda will be a mock board meeting session.

“It’s designed to explore open meetings, things that can – and often do – trip up boards in terms of meetings,” he said. “We’ll have a rogue member or two – not that any of you are – some delegations, a member who wants to speak as a ‘delegation,’ and some meeting disruption. Our resident playwright and Executive Director Howard O’Cull is busy chiseling away at the script, and he needs some volunteers.”

Snuffer added that meetings are school boards’ main output and the means by which people judge their performance, rightly or wrongly. “I guarantee this will be a good, informative, productive session,” he said.

Association Counsel Howard E. Seufer Jr., Esq., of Bowles Rice McDavid Graff & Love, will provide training around the vignettes. Newly appointed Ethics Commission Executive Director Theresa Kirk also will be invited to attend.

Snuffer said other program highlights include a review of school and district climate as measured by school employees and a plenary session dealing with how to strengthen county boards.

“Howard has designed this session so that we, as members, can brainstorm, listing ways to strengthen how county boards operate, how they are perceived and how they can become more powerful,” he said. “We’ll gather some information to share with folks whom county boards have to interact with. Our goal is to get their take, based on your input.”

This session is important, Snuffer said. “Let’s face it,” he said. “County boards seem to be endangered species in some quarters. We don’t have the respect we should have, and we don’t exercise the clout we do have. This session is for us to list ways in which we can better ourselves in terms of governance, perception and outlook. The exercise also will be one that each person can be part of and for which you’ll need to do some advance meeting preparation.”

All conference programs have been approved by the West Virginia Board of Education/West Virginia School Board Association School Board Member Training Standards Review Committee (TSRC). Members will receive 7.25 hours of credit for attending the entire conference.

The fiscal year 2010 annual business meeting will be held in conjunction with the conference.

For information relating to conference logistics, please contact: Shirley Davidson, WVSBA administrative assistant, preferably by e-mail at: sdavidson@wvsba.org.

For programmatic information, contact O’Cull, also preferably by e-mail at: hocull@wvsba.org. The association’s telephone number is 304-346-0571.



By Gregory W. Bailey

Many county boards of education find that their meetings take longer than anticipated and amount to a less than efficient use of time. One device that has been helpful for some boards is the use of a consent agenda. Consent agendas are a collection of motions that deal with routine matters that generally do not require discussion or debate and that may be approved collectively by a single motion and vote. There are no legal requirements that would prevent any motion from being included on a consent agenda.

If your board has promulgated rules for the conduct of its meetings in accordance with the requirements of West Virginia Code §6-9A-3, any changes may require the board's rules to be amended accordingly.

As a practical matter, for a consent agenda to operate efficiently there must be a willingness on the part of board members to conduct business in such a fashion. If there is constant, time-consuming debate on which matters should or should not be included on a consent agenda, the objective of efficiency is lost. If individual board members are comfortable with having any questions answered by the superintendent concerning a routine agenda item in advance of a meeting rather than during a meeting, consent agenda procedures may operate efficiently. That is not to say that deliberation may occur outside the context of a public meeting under the pretext of seeking clarification upon matters to be considered at a meeting.

If a board member requests an item that has been placed upon a consent agenda be removed and considered separately, it is appropriate and advisable for the presiding officer to acquiesce to the request and announce that the item will be removed from the consent agenda and considered separately. The removed item would then require a separate motion, second and vote.

Examples of consent items are approval of out-of-county student travel requests and approval of payment of bills. Personnel items are generally not appropriate for inclusion on the consent agenda based upon the frequency of requests by board members to consider personnel separately. Significant motions that are not routine, such as school closures, approval of construction contract change orders and other significant contract issues should not ordinarily be placed on a consent agenda. It is recommended that a consent agenda be established on an ad hoc basis, rather than a standing list of consent business items.

Bailey is a Bowles Rice McDavid Graff & Love Education Practice Group attorney. Former General Counsel, Kanawha County Board of Education, he is a member of the West Virginia University College of Human Resources and Education Board of Advisors, a member of the state Bar Education Law Committee and has been named to Best Lawyers in America (Education Law). 


CHARLESTON, W.Va.The West Virginia Department of Education and Verizon are taking a “byte” out of Internet crime. The upcoming West Virginia Cyber Safety Summit will bring the best practices of cyber safety to Charleston on Feb. 24 at the Clay Center for the Arts and Science. 

“The Internet exposes our children to a vast new world,” state Superintendent of Schools Steve Paine said. “Teaching our children how to use that resource safely and protect themselves while online, playing games or surfing the Web is an important step in educating children in the 21st century.”

Featured guests will include two nationally recognized experts, a West Virginia cyber crime fighter and two teams of high school students: 

Student teams from Huntington High School in Cabell County, as well as Hedgesville and Martinsburg high schools in Berkeley County, will share the teen perspective on cyber safety, and present how they are communicating with their peers. The students are writing the first online guide on Wikipedia on cyber safety for West Virginia, including creative, online concepts for communicating safety online with their peers. Gov. Joe Manchin, Attorney General Darrell McGraw and Superintendent Steve Paine will participate as well.

Verizon is West Virginia’s leading broadband provider. President B. Keith Fulton said cyber safety goes along with more access to high-speed Internet resources.

“Today’s students do not remember life before the Internet,” he said. “They’ve always accessed a world of information with the click of a mouse. But some areas in cyberspace are inappropriate for them. All of us, really, must be aware of how to avoid these risks.”

Go to www.verizon.com/wv for safe, online registration for the West Virginia Cyber Safe Summit. There is no charge to attend, but seating is limited. In addition to the speakers, those attending will be able to participate in a town hall discussion, or focus on specific areas of interest at roundtables led by speakers, and other subject matter experts from government and private industry. An interactive, electronic quiz and voting by participants will be provided by eInstruction Corp.

For more information, contact the West Virginia Department of Education’s Office of Communications at (304) 558-2699.



CHARLESTON, W.Va. – The Education Commission of the States National Center for Learning and Citizenship is encouraging West Virginia schools to apply for the Service Learning Schools of Success Award. Schools chosen for the award will receive $10,000 over two years. Winners will be announced in May.

Ten schools across the country will be selected for the award based on their experience sustaining the following elements of service-learning, which have shown to lead to greater student achievement and success:  

  1. Vision and Leadership,
  2. Curriculum and Assessment,
  3. Professional Development,
  4. Community-School Partnerships, and
  5. Continuous improvement.

The 10 schools will form the Service-Learning Schools of Success Network. The schools will contribute to a national service-learning advocacy campaign as well as receive local and national media coverage for their service-learning success, contributions and progress.  
ECS is a national, nonprofit organization that works with governors, state legislators, state education leaders and others to develop policies to improve public education at all levels.

Interested schools must complete and submit the "Intent to Apply Form" no later than Feb. 27. A completed application including attachments must be submitted by 5 p.m., March 31.

An application and guidelines are available at: http://wvde.state.wv.us/tt/2009/award-form.doc.

For more information, contact the National Center for Learning and Citizenship at (303) 299-3636 or the West Virginia Department of Education’s Office of Communications at (304) 558-2699.



CHARLESTON, W.Va. High school students in West Virginia’s Eastern Panhandle are  invited to apply for $1,500 scholarships available through the McDonald’s Educates Scholarship program.

Last year, 45 students throughout the greater Washington, D.C., region, including the District of Columbia and portions of Maryland, Northern Virginia and West Virginia, each received scholarships totaling $67,500. In recent years, McDonald's has awarded more than $1.2 million to local students through scholarship programs.

Current high school seniors who live in the greater Washington, D.C., or outlying areas and who demonstrate leadership skills, both academically and within their communities, are eligible to apply for the scholarship. In West Virginia, students in Berkeley, Grant, Hampshire, Hardy, Jefferson, Mineral or Morgan counties can apply.

Applications will be accepted until March 27. Applicants are asked to complete two short-answer questions on cultural diversity and community service. Winners will be recognized in the spring at a special reception and will be featured in a publicity campaign.

Applications are available online at: http://www.mcdonaldseducates.com/scholarship_01.html. Send completed applications to: McDonald's Family Restaurants of Greater Washington, D.C., c/o GolinHarris, 2200 Clarendon Boulevard, Suite 1100, Arlington, VA 22201. Applications also can be faxed to (703) 741-7501.

For more information, call (703) 741-7500 or contact the West Virginia Department of Education’s Office of Communications at (304) 558-2699.



CHARLESTON, W.Va. Eighth graders across West Virginia will get the chance to use technology this spring to test their knowledge of state history and culture in the online Golden Horseshoe test. Those who score well will receive the Golden Horseshoe Award.

Students can opt to take the test online the test day assigned to their county from April 1 through April 9. All eighth-grade West Virginia history students may now access the practice quizzes that are available on the WV Learns site: http://wvlearns.k12.wv.us/.

Students have received instructions regarding their usernames and passwords to access the practice quizzes. The practice quizzes are available through March 31 and can be accessed from any computer at home or at school.

The Golden Horseshoe knighting ceremony will take place on May 1 at the West Virginia Cultural Center in Charleston.

Parents and students should check with the West Virginia history teacher in their school building or with their county superintendent for more information regarding the practice quizzes and the Golden Horseshoe test day in their county.

The Golden Horseshoe Test has been administered in West Virginia each year since 1931 and is the longest-running program of its kind in the United States. The top-scoring students in each county receive the prestigious award. Each county has at least two winners. The exam tests student knowledge on West Virginia citizenship, civics and government, economics, geography, history and current events.

The Golden Horseshoe originated in the early 1700s in Virginia when then-Governor Alexander Spotswood saw the need for exploration of the land west of the Allegheny Mountains, most of which is now West Virginia. Translated from Latin, the inscription on each horseshoe reads, “Thus it was decided to cross the mountains.” On the other side was written, “Order of the Golden Horseshoe.” Recipients of the award have been known since then as The Knights and Ladies of the Golden Horseshoe.

For more information, contact Regina Scotchie, social studies coordinator for the West Virginia Department of Education, at (304) 558-7805, or the Office of Communications at (304) 558-2699.



Capitol Ministries provides weekly Bible studies for legislators, elected officials, lobbyists, staff, and others serving in the Capitol. Bible study for lobbyists and staff will be held each Tuesday at noon during the regular legislative session in the Treasurer’s Conference Room (EB 54) in the basement of the East Wing

This session’s study is “The Sermon on the Mount: The Greatest Sermon Ever Preached.” Each week 20 copies of study notes will be distributed.

For more information, contact Tim Pauley, state director of Capitol Ministries West Virginia. The email address is: tim.pauley@capmin.org. The telephone number is 304-767-8430. More information is available at: www.capmin.org.



Some of the terms used during the legislative session…

Chambers:  The two areas set aside for meetings of the entire membership of the House and Senate (also referred to as “the floor”).  “The bill is on the floor” means that it is out of committee and before the entire body of the House or Senate.

Christmas Tree:  A bill that has had several amendments added to it. “We had to kill the bill because it got Christmas treed.” (Also called “loving a bill to death”).

Committee Substitute:  An amended version of an introduced bill as recommended by a committee, generally offered when there are numerous amendments or substantial rewriting of an introduced bill (often referred to as a “com sub”).

Concur:  The action of one body in agreeing to or approving a proposal or action of the other body (as in: “the Senate concurs with the House amendments.”)

Double-Referenced:  A bill that gets assigned to two committees  instead of just one

Enrolled Bill:  The final version of a bill, as passed by both bodies

House of Origin:  The body in which a bill or resolution is introduced

Journal:  The formal, written record of floor proceedings printed daily by the clerk of each body (can be picked up outside the Journal Room on the ground floor at the rotunda area). The journal also contains that day’s agenda for the floor session.

Motion to Lie Over:  Consider the bill at the next meeting

Motion to Postpone Indefinitely:  Delay action, usually forever; “PPI’d” usually indicates a dead bill.

Readings:  The three stages a bill must go through on the floor of a chamber; the first reading is informational, the second reading is amendment stage, and the third reading is passage stage.

Title:  A concise statement of the contents of a bill; it is a constitutional requirement in West Virginia that the title accurately and completely reflect the contents of the bill.

Well:  The round area at the center of the Capitol building and between the chambers; often used as a meeting place, as in: “Meet me at the well.”
   SB or HB – Senate Bill or House Bill

   SR or HR – Senate Resolution or House Resolution

   SCR or HCR – Senate Concurrent Resolution or House Concurrent Resolution

   SJR or HJR – Senate Joint Resolution or House Joint Resolution

   Com Sub – Committee Substitute

Source: West Virginia Association of Counties (WVACO), Patti Hamilton, Executive Director. The Web site address is http://www.wvaco.org/.



Opening Day – Jan. 14, 2009: Organizational session to elect officers and open and publish election results (WV Const. Art. VI, §18).

First Day -- Feb. 11, 2009: First day of session (WV Const. Art. VI, §18).

20th Day -- March 2, 2009: Submission of Legislative Rule-Making Review bills due (WV Code. §29A-3-12).

41st Day – March 23, 2009: Last day to introduce bills in the Senate and the House (Senate Rule 14)and (House Rule 91a). Does not apply to originating or supplementary appropriation bills. Does not apply to Senate or House resolutions or concurrent resolutions.

47th Day – March 29, 2009: Bills due out of committees in house of origin to ensure three full days for readings.

50th Day – April 1, 2009: Last day to consider bills on third reading in house of origin. Does not include budget or supplementary appropriation bills (Joint Rule 5b).

60th Day – April 11, 2009: Adjournment at midnight (WV Const. Art. VI, §22).

Source: West Virginia Legislature




By Rick Snuffer

Things are in place for the West Virginia School Board Association to have a very good legislative session.

As I have written, we have a new legislative approach being lead by a seasoned statehouse government relations person – Tom Susman of TSG Consulting in Charleston.

Additionally, we are revamping our legislative publication – one of our best assets in terms of legislative communications. Jim Wallace, also of TSG Consulting, will lead editorial efforts with The Legislature.

While these things are important, along with a revamped, energized legislative committee, our successes in the legislative session depend largely on your commitment to association goals, efforts and initiatives.

Working together, 275 members strong, we are a significant force. The key word is “together.” That is why I am asking each of you to support our legislative agenda, which accompanies this article.

As you will note, there are nine primary items the legislative committee has endorsed for the 2009 session. Each is of significance.

While there are geographic boundaries and other considerations that may impact county boards acting in concert, as a legislative committee, we feel each county board can support the endeavors listed.

Another primary emphasis – and important for us to achieve success in the session – is for everyone to work together. In the least, if you or your board were to oppose a measure, please don’t work against your peer legislative committee and other members.
This is critical in regard to the board compensation issue.

This initiative is one most members embrace wholeheartedly – although “amount” may differ as well as questions concerning per diem or a “salary-type” proposal. The legislative committee has adopted support for the latter.

We, however, aren’t going to “stop” at the county board member compensation issue this year. Indeed, let’s build the structure and framework for an effective session which, of course, begins with your involvement and commitment.

Please join the association’s executive board, the WVSBA legislative committee and peers in being united in regard to the above issues.
Together, we can accomplish much this year. Divided, we end up where we have been during the last several sessions.

I don’t know about you, but it’s about time we actively promoted county boards – their leadership, goals, and aspirations as governing bodies.

In other words, it comes down to our commitment and involvement.

Count me in.

How about you?


Rick Snuffer is WVSBA President. He is president of the Raleigh County Board of Education.



The following are the 2009 Regular Session Legislative Proposals supported by the West Virginia School Board Association (WVSBA):



About.com recently reported a California teacher is selling ads on exam papers because he was told his school didn't have enough money to pay for the paper.

San Diego mathematics teacher Tom Farber lets parents and businesses buy space at the bottom of test pages to pay the cost of photocopying. 

“My intention is, (selling ads) is a stopgap measure,"  Farber told CNN.com. "I don't want to be doing this year after year."

He said budget cuts at Rancho Bernardo High School had limited his allowance to $316 for the year - but the cost of printing quizzes and tests for his 167 students would have been more than $500. Rather than cut back on the number of tests he gives, Farber decided to allow ads or inspirational quotes on test papers – a move that was accepted by the school and parents.

Source: Tales Out of School/Weird News From the Classroom – Buck Wolf, About.com



“You take people as far as they will go, not as far as you would like them to go.”  – Jeannette Rankin (R-Montana), first woman elected to the U.S. Congress (1916).


“I cannot include any base-building salary increases in this year’s budget. I will, however, ask for the ability to share any additional money that we may have with our teachers, service personnel and state employees, if financial conditions improve enough for us to afford to do so.” – Gov. Joe Manchin, explaining why he put no pay raises in this year’s budget but might consider bonuses

“I don’t think our teachers are objecting to teach more days, but they would expect to get paid for it.” – Judy Hale, president of WV-AFT, on the governor’s proposal for more flexibility in the school calendar

“We have heard that you wanted a globally competitive system. We have responded.” – state Superintendent Steve Paine on improving standards in West Virginia’s public schools

“I don’t have a problem coming up with rational solutions. But it may require doing something different than what we have done.” – Senate Education Chairman Bob Plymale on taking a new approach to helping districts with low enrollment and sparse population


Last Word

By Hoppy Kercheval

Gov. Manchin has presented the “NO” budget.

It’s like when you were a kid and you used to ask your parents for something and every one of those discussions started with them saying “NO!”

Manchin on Wednesday unveiled his proposed spending plan for next fiscal year that appears to leave little room for anything beyond the basics—that is, exactly what the state is doing this year.

Of course, even a “basics” budget adds up pretty quickly. Public education, higher education and Health and Human Services account for 77 percent of the $4.3 billion budget.

Team Manchin wants everyone to know that West Virginia is one of just three states in the black. While mighty California threatens to slide off the San Andreas into the financial abyss, little ol’ West Virginia is proudly paying its bills.

These are interesting times. Politicians typically gain fame—and re-election—for what they spend. Nowadays, not spending and staying in the black makes you look responsible next to the hand-out crowd of governors and mayors.

Manchin’s two budget forecasters, who are nicknamed “Gloom” and “Doom,” were suitably in character Wednesday as they briefed the press on the governor’s budget plan.

Yes, we are in a recession, one said. Yes, West Virginia’s economy is going to get worse before it gets better. But since MoJo has saved the state’s pennies and left the drunken sailor act to other governors, the Mountain State might just pull through this global mess without having to sell off the state’s panhandles.

Manchin spread the warning statewide Wednesday night during his State of the State address.

“Tougher times are ahead,” Manchin said. “While we are in better financial shape than our neighbors, West Virginia is not immune to the national and global economy. These may be the most challenging times we have faced.”

Manchin flat out said there will be no across-the-board raise for schoolteachers, service workers and public employees. Sure, he might give a one-time bonus if there is some money left over at the end of the fiscal year.

Yea, and Rich Rodriguez might be presented with the key to the city of Morgantown.

The fact is, Manchin believes he’s been more than fair with teachers with across-the-board raises, filling in the experience increments and fixing their retirement system. Plus, Manchin knows that during these unprecedented times if teachers grumble too much, the public could turn on them.

There is some karma here. Manchin’s late uncle—the lovable, but mathematically challenged A. James Manchin—lost millions of dollars of state money as treasurer because he left the details to a wannabe Wall Street hot shot. 

Now comes the nephew who opens the state wallet so everyone can see the moths fly out. 

Manchin always remains open to meet with lawmakers and constituent groups. There will be many such meetings over the next two months during the regular session of the Legislature and money will almost always come up. 

Some may get their way with the governor, but understand that the first answer our of his mouth will be “no.” 

MoJo is now NoJo.

This commentary was published February 12, 2009, on MetroNews Talkline. Reprinted by permission of Hoppy Kercheval.



The Legislature is published by the West Virginia School Board Association. It provides county board of education members, state policymakers, school administrators and the education community information and opinions regarding West Virginia legislative issues. The views expressed in this publication do not necessarily reflect official opinion or policies of the WVSBA, unless specifically stated.

West Virginia School Board Association
PO Box 1008
Charleston, WV 25324
Phone (304) 346-0571 • Fax (304) 346-0572 WVSBA.ORG

Richard Snuffer(Raleigh), President

Vincit omnia veritas
“Truth conquers all”