CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The education reform bill will be the subject of two public hearings Monday in the House of Delegates.

The bill, SB 451, passed the House Education Committee back on Friday and is now in the possession of the House Finance Committee.

Danny Hamrick

House of Delegates Speaker Roger Hanshaw, R-Clay, called for the initial public hearing scheduled for 8 a.m. Monday but discussion during the House floor session Friday resulted in an agreement among delegates for a second public hearing set for 5:30 p.m. Monday.

House Education Committee Chairman Danny Hamrick, R-Harrison, said there will likely be a variety of speakers.

“I’m sure we’ll have a lot educators, different experts from the Department of Education, maybe, outside organizations, policy experts, people that are informed,” Hamrick said.

Hanshaw said the House leadership said from the start it was going to take the education reform bill it received from the Senate seriously and a public hearing is part of that.

“We’re doing what the House rules provide for. We’re just trying to proactive and not make people wait on someone else to do it,” he said.

Education groups made their announcement in Flatwoods Saturday.

The education committee worked on the bill for parts of three days last week before passing what ended up being a version much different that what the Senate passed. It no longer includes education savings accounts, language concerning pay during work stoppages, a non-severability clause or a paycheck protection annual check-off requirement. The bill still deals with charter schools but through a pilot project for only two counties.

The hearings come less than two days after the state’s three education groups announced their leadership had been given authorization by their members to take some kind of statewide work action in connection with the bill. A date and type of work action hasn’t been announced.

“We are watching this bill as it passes through the process. As leaders we are standing together and are in constant contact with our members. We are watching every day, every hour with this bill,” West Virginia American Federation of Teachers President Fred Albert said Saturday at the Flatwoods announcement. “Public  education is thriving in our state and we know we are doing a great job contrary to what others may say.”

West Virginia Education Association President Dale Lee called the vote results “a big vote of confidence” for education leaders.

“’They know we will do the best for the children of West Virginia. Our educators put our children first and they will make sure every child in West Virginia will have access to the best possible public education,” Lee said.

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