CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The largest school system in the state of West Virginia has come out in opposition to the Omnibus Education Bill being considered in the state Senate.

The Kanawha County Board of Education (KCBOE) held a special session on Wednesday at the board office to present a resolution to SB 451. The KCBOE passed the resolution quickly, 5-0.

Ryan White

“There are certain provisions in that bill that the board believes would be detrimental to our mission of providing a thorough and efficient education to all students in our county,” Ryan White, the KCBOE President, told the media.

“We believe the bill should focus on the education of the more disadvantaged kids in our county and in particular those provisions would likely cause those students to not have the educational opportunity that they deserve.”

Charter schools in SB 451 was a provision of discussion at the KCBOE meeting, where White said charters would take money away from school districts around the state. He also did not like the idea of the charter schools being allowed to “cherry-pick” students in the school system, which he believed would make a school full of students that have parents pushing them, thus leave the disadvantaged students further behind.

KCBOE member Tracy White said the bill as a whole is detrimental to students in special education in regards to charter schools.

“You have rumors of charter schools that will be specifically for kids in special education,” she said at the meeting. “Well, there is nothing more segregating than having a complete school with kids with special educations.”

At the meeting, KCBOE member Ric Cavender said the state and county should focus on its own schools first before thinking of charters.

“We are not in the position as a county and a state, in my opinion,” he said. “We are struggling as it is to fund our schools appropriately. We just passed a levy to better fund our HVAC system and get the things our student’s need to learn in a comfortable environment. We are doing everything we can just to fund the schools we have.”

Cavender added he just can’t support the bill as a whole.

“If certain aspects of this bill were there and not others, I would probably be more supportive,” he said. “When they are shoving all this other stuff in here and pushing charter schools down our throats, there is no way I can support it.”

Ryan White said he did like a couple of the provisions in the bill, including a change to leave for teachers and pay raises. He believes the teachers are willing to walk out over the bill, if necessary.

“We do think that some of the provisions in the bill are good and go towards helping the disadvantaged,” he said. “Focus on education reform should be to help the most disadvantaged kids. There are redeeming aspects to the bills.”

Fred Albert

Rod Stapler, President of Kanawha County chapter of the West Virginia School Service Personnel Association, Fred Albert, AFT-West Virginia President and Dinah Adkins, Co-President of the Kanawha County Education Association all spoke at the meeting to encourage the KCBOE to vote to pass the resolution.

Gov. Jim Justice said Tuesday he opposed the legislation, as the legislators in the state Senate have taken up the bill as a Committee of the Whole on Wednesday. Justice said on Tuesday that lawmakers should take up his proposed pay raise by itself rather than in the large bill. He reiterated his stance on Wednesday’s MetroNews “Talkline” while also giving some provisions that he is in favor for.

Dr. Steve Paine

 

State Board of Education members have held a emergency session on Wednesday to discuss the bill. Dr. Steve Paine, superintendent of schools, and David Perry, the president of the state Board of Education, said they were not notified of the contents of the Omnibus Education Bill before it came about last week in the Senate Education Committee.

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