Cumberland Times-News

Local News

March 22, 2013

W.Va. to change the way counties set school calendars

Measure meant to improve student achievement scores

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — West Virginia would change how county school districts hire teachers, free up more days on their calendars to bolster student instruction and require full-week schooling for 4-year-olds statewide, under legislation sent to Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin on Friday.

The House of Delegate passed the bill, the centerpiece of the Democratic governor’s agenda this session, by a 95-2 vote. The measure offers to help teachers with loans, covers the renewal fee for those with national certification, and revamps the way the state Department of Education accredits schools and provides professional development.

It also advances several key goals in Tomblin’s drive to improve West Virginia’s low-ranking student achievement scores. One aims to ensure that high school students finish their junior year ready for college or career training, with remedial courses offered for those who aren’t ready while they are seniors. Tomblin also wants all third-graders reading at that level by the time they finish that grade.

Lawmakers from both parties joined Tomblin at the podium in his Capitol reception room to herald the bill’s final passage.

“We’re all here today because we believe our children deserve the best education possible,” said Tomblin. He added that when it comes to student performance, “We’ve been missing the mark.”

Groups representing teachers and school workers were on hand after successfully lobbying for several changes to the bill. So were officials with the state Chamber of Commerce, which led a large business-industry coalition that rallied support for Tomblin’s proposal. State Board of Education President Wade Linger and schools Superintendent James Phares joined the governor as well.

The Senate unanimously passed the bill Monday after adding the changes sought by the education groups. Those reserve some days in the school calendar for teacher activities, and expanded Tomblin’s proposed criteria for teacher hiring. As amended, the bill also gives principals and faculty senates a greater say when already-employed educators are among the candidates for a classroom teaching post.

In perhaps the biggest concession to these groups, the Senate removed language that would have allowed the nonprofit Teach for America program into West Virginia schools. The changes also require the Department of Education to trim non-classroom personnel costs by 5 percent in each of the next two budget years.

The Senate removed the $175,000 salary cap for the state schools superintendent. With the state board seeking to conduct a national search for job candidates, the bill already dropped the requirement that a superintendent’s master’s degree has to be in education administration.

Tomblin and lawmakers have focused on public schools in the wake of an audit that contrasted hefty taxpayer spending with poor student achievement.

That study also compared West Virginia to other states and found it uniquely burdened by highly detailed education laws and a large number of state-level employees relative to the student population.

Friday’s 95-2 House vote came after failed attempts Thursday by the minority Republicans to cut department staffing further, add charter schools and offer teachers a tougher evaluation process in exchange for cash bonuses. Republican Delegates Marty Gearheart of Mercer County and Larry Kump of Berkeley cast Friday’s nay votes.

“I’m concerned about the state board of education still being too top-heavy and with too much authority over local schools,” Kump told colleagues.

1
Text Only
Local News
  •  Easter grass Easter grass

    Kamryn Rice, 7, of Flintstone, finds and bags a plastic egg during Cumberland’s annual Easter Egg Hunt Saturday afternoon at Constitution Park. Hosted by the city’s Parks and Recreation Department, along with students from Frostburg State University’s Recreation and Parks Management program and the 4-H Youth of Allegany County, the afternoon also included games, relay races, face painting, temporary tattoos, arts and crafts, and a petting zoo sponsored by the 4-H Hare Raiser Club, as well as a visit from the Easter Bunny. The eggs contained candy and other treats.

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Business community wary of minimum wage increases

    CUMBERLAND — Allegany County businesses are certain to be impacted by the increase in Maryland’s minimum wage, set to reach $10.10 an hour by July 2018 under a law championed by Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley.

    April 20, 2014

  • Tipped workers left behind in pay hike action

    ANNAPOLIS — Many minimum wage workers will be getting a raise now that a hike to Maryland’s wage has been signed into law. But while advocates are ascribing the increase as a win, there’s a bitter aftertaste for one group that was left behind.

    April 20, 2014

  • Views vary among Americans when it comes to hourly rate

    CUMBERLAND — Even among those who have worked minimum wage jobs, views on the minimum wage can differ.
    “Minimum wage has to exist. There is no question there, so whatever it is, it will be called ‘minimum wage’. But it should not be below a living wage,” said Bonita Quick of Cumberland.

    April 20, 2014

  • Income guideline change will increase WIC recipients

    KEYSER, W.Va. — Raised income eligibility guidelines for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children will increase the number of those served in West Virginia by about 10 percent, according to the state health officer.

    April 20, 2014

  • Absentee ballots moving online causes security concerns

    ANNAPOLIS — Voters may get to skip the lines at the polls this summer by receiving and marking their ballots online, but election officials must first decide if the convenience outweighs the security risks.

    April 20, 2014

  • Allegany County emergency medical services honorees and supporters Allegany, Garrett emergency responders honored

    MCHENRY — The 75 people from Allegany and Garrett counties who were involved with two exceptional emergency medical services calls in 2013 were presented with awards at the recent Night for Stars program held at the Wisp Resort.

    April 20, 2014 2 Photos

  • Lexis Trickett meets with Gov. Martin O’Malley Ninth-grader among 30 at inaugural event

    OAKLAND — Lexis Trickett, a ninth-grade student at Southern Garrett High School, was among 30 girls who attended Gov. Martin O’Malley’s Leadership Forum for Women and Girls recently in Annapolis in celebration of Women’s History Month.

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • School immunization requirements change

    CUMBERLAND — Changes to school immunization requirements by the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene affect students entering kindergarten and seventh grade for the next school year.

    April 20, 2014

  • Easter experience Easter experience

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

Facebook
Must Read
News related video
Raw: Easter Morning Delivery for Space Station Ceremony Marks 19th Anniversary of OKC Bombing Raw: Fire Destroys 3 N.J. Beachfront Homes Raw: Space X Launches to Space Station Man Charged in Kansas City Highway Shootings Obama Awards Navy Football Trophy Ceremony at MIT Remembers One of Boston's Finest Raw: Students Hurt in Colo. School Bus Crash Raw: Church Tries for Record With Chalk Jesus Police Arrest Suspect in Highway Shootings Drought Concerns May Hurt Lake Tourism Vermont Goat Meat Gives Refugees Taste of Home Calif. Investigators Re-construct Fatal Bus Cras Appellate Court Hears Okla. Gay Marriage Case Horseless Carriage Introduced at NY Auto Show Chelsea Clinton Is Pregnant Beau Biden Plans 2016 Run for Del. Governor Flamingo Frenzy Ahead of Zoo Construction Obama: 8 Million Healthcare Signups Obama Hopeful on Ukraine, Will Watch Russians