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Campbell: School funding formula could change to better address students’ needs

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A new committee of the West Virginia Board of Education is considering changes to the state’s school funding formula to better address students’ needs.

The School Finance and Funding Committee met for the first time Wednesday to discuss resource needs in education and funding solutions.

Members of the committee include representatives of the West Virginia Association of School Administrators, the state chapter of the American Federation of Teachers, the West Virginia Education Association and the state Department of Education’s Office of School Finance.

Former West Virginia Board of Education President Tom Campbell, who also serves as the committee’s chairman, said there needs to be a focus on addressing the emotional needs of current students.

“That’s a different model than what we faced 20 years ago. It’s a different model than the nation faces,” he said. “Most of our funding right is based on per-count of students. We need to add to that need, and there are so many different needs in different parts of the state, and I think we’ve got to help the public school system meet those needs.”

Tom Campbell

Campbell said a lack of counselors and similar employees has put pressure on teachers to handle issues such as poverty and mental health. He noted how alternative education programs were being offered for students in as early grades as kindergarten.

“I think where we’re going with this is what are our students’ needs now, and then look at what our funding model is now, and then try to come up with what’s going to meet the needs that are so much different now than when our current funding message was established,” he said.

Campbell said current education problems are much different than the issues when the funding model was created.

“How do we need to tweak that or change that to fit the needs of today’s students better?” he said. “Then, we get better results, which is not just good for students but good for the economy.”

Campbell mentioned the possibility of allowing local governments and bodies to be more involved in education, which could lead to additional excess levies passing and increased interest in education.

“When you don’t get the local folks involved, you’re missing all that sweat equity,” he said. “The excess levies, we’ve lost several in West Virginia and I sure don’t want to lose anymore.”

According to Campbell, $500 million in education funding comes from local levies.

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