Bill on Consolidations Fails to Advance
The following offers highlights of the recent legislative sessions. Precollegiate enrollment figures are based on fall 2005 data reported by state officials for public elementary and secondary schools. The figures for precollegiate education spending do not include federal flow-through funds, unless noted.
This year was a quiet one for K-12 education in the West Virginia legislature, with only a small increase in spending and no major new programs passed.
The budget for public education rose to $1.7 billion for fiscal 2007, or an increase of 1.2 percent over the $1.7 billion spent in the current fiscal year. Gov. Joe Manchin III has said that he plans to tackle such issues as pay raises for teachers in the next legislative session, after a special session later this year that would deal solely with tax changes.
“We’ve got to get our debt under control,” he said in The Legislature, a publication of the West Virginia School Boards Association produced during the legislative session.
A bill that would have had the residents of a community vote on consolidations involving their schools failed when the Senate education committee declined to consider the measure after it was passed by the House. ("West Virginians Could Get More Say Over School Mergers," Feb. 22, 2006.)
The education budget includes increased funding that would provide one nurse for every 1,500 students in a district, an addition of 71 nurses statewide.
Salary increases already approved for teachers who have earned certification from the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards were extended to speech-language pathologists, audiologists, and counselors with certain advanced certifications.
The governor signed legislation that would expand the number of students eligible for certain college-tuition waivers to include children of military reservists.
The measure also raises the age limit for eligibility for the waivers from 22 to 25, and increases the per-student allocation from a maximum of $500 to $2,000 per year.
Vol. 25, Issue 34, Page 25