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West Virginia House decides to have two public hearings on education reform bill

The West Virginia House of Delegates decides to hold two public hearings on the education reform bill Monday - one at 8 a.m. and one at 5:30 p.m. (WCHS/WVAH File)

The West Virginia House of Delegates has decided to have two public hearings on the controversial education reform bill after union leaders complained about the original timing of the hearing.

House members voted to hold two public hearings Monday on the education bill - one at 8 a.m. and 5:30 p.m.

Union leaders had requested that a public hearing scheduled for Monday morning regarding the comprehensive education reform bill be moved back later in the day so teachers can participate.

House Speaker Roger Hanshaw intially called for a public hearing on Senate Bill 451 at 8 a.m. Monday, however, union officials requested the hearing be moved to 5 p.m.

“At 8 a.m., our teachers are in school,” West Virginia Education Association President Dale Lee said. “So by 5 that gives us a fair chance to be here and testify and have our voices heard.”

Meanwhile, the omnibus education bill is now of day three of discussion by the House Education Committee. Several amendments have been made to the bill and more are expected to come.

The education reform bill has gone through significant changes since the House E\education committee got ahold of it this week. One change has been in the charter schools provision that has continued to shrink as discussions have continued.

The first change that affected charter schools was the recommendation for just six charter schools in West Virginia.

On Thursday, a draft of the bill was changed to only two - one in Kanawha County and one in Cabell County.

A suggestion was made that Mary C Snow Elementary in Kanawha and Spring Hill Elementary in Cabell would fit the eligibility under this bill to be converted into charter school if the bill passes.

Friday morning Cabell County Superintendent Ryan Saxe was invited for questions on that school's performance and the outside circumstances that affect its students.

Saxe said Spring Hill is making tremendous momentum in improving test scores. He wouldn't say whether he supports charter schools or not but he did say he would rather see each provisions of Senate Bill 451 stand on its own merits.

West Virginia Department of Education officials were also questioned Friday morning on eligibility for education savings accounts, and the state Auditor’s Office spoke to the rules for purchasing cards.

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