TAYLOR COUNTY—On Thursday, the Taylor County Board of Education held an emergency meeting to vote on a resolution concerning Senate Bill 451, the Omnibus Education Bill.
Board Member Douglas Flohr read the resolution aloud to the attendees.
He stated that the entire West Virginia Public Education system continues to be unfunded, leading to shortages of teachers, service personnel, nurses, librarians, psychologists, counselors and special education staff.
Flohr continued reading, “The Senate has since passed SB 451, the Omnibus Education Bill which proposes certain reforms to public education with little, if any, meaningful collaboration with educational stakeholders in West Virginia.”
He also stated that certain provisions of the proposed Omnibus Education Bill are detrimental to public schools and the ability of the Taylor County Board of Education to provide a thorough and efficient system for all students in Taylor County.
“Therefore, be it resolved that the Taylor County Board of Education opposes SB 451, the Omnibus Education Bill, and urges the West Virginia Legislature to pass the Governor’s pay raise bill and engage West Virginia Education stakeholders in developing meaningful education reform necessary to improve educational outcomes for all children served by West Virginia’s public schools,” Flohr imparted.
After the resolution was read the board members voted in favor of the resolution with a five to zero vote.
The teachers and service personnel thanked the board for their continued support.
Throughout the week, union leaders throughout the state called for an authorization vote from each county to call for a “day of action,” which could include walking out of classrooms.
Union leaders met on Saturday, to tally the votes from each county and to determine if they have enough votes to call for such an action.
According to Fred Albert, President of the West Virginia Chapter of the American Federation of Teachers, the unions voted overwhelmingly in support of the authorization.
Also, on Saturday, Delegate Taylor-R and Majority Leader Amy Summers shared that she was disappointed in the actions taken by the Taylor County Board of Education.
Summers explained that she would have liked for the board members to reach out to her prior to the vote and express their concerns with her.
“The bill is being changed. It is a very lengthy process,” she voiced. “For them to vote to oppose a bill that is not even final is just sad.”
The House Education Committee has considered a new version of the bill, called the strike and insert amendment, that removed several of the most controversial provisions.
A new version of the proposed strike and insert amendment was released Saturday evening, and it would limit the number of charter schools to just two schools in state and eliminate the proposed education savings accounts completely.
Summers shared that she believes there are many positive aspects to the bill that will be beneficial for many.
The new proposal still includes the five percent raise, a one-time $2,000 supplement for math teachers, a $250 take credit for school supplies and a $500 year-end bonus if not absent more than four days.
She also stated that the school aid formula changes will include a minimum of 1,400 students.
“This will be very beneficial for counties with under 1,400 students enrolled,” Summers explained. “They will be provided funding for 1,400 students regardless of their enrollment.”
She also reported that the bill also includes that school counselors’ primary purpose to support students with academic, social and emotional needs, with an 80 percent time requirement.
In addition, she shared that in the event of a work stoppage, teachers and service personnel will be paid and extracurricular activities can continue.
Summers voiced that she believes that there is something for everyone in the bill and she encourages her constituents to be patient during the process.
“A public hearing will be held on Monday, and I encourage anyone who would like to discuss the bill to please attend,” imparted Summers. “If you are not able to attend please feel free to call or email me with any concerns you may have.”