W.Va. Senate Returns For Special Session

Talks Resume on Bettering Mountain State Education

CHARLESTON — Taking the baton from the House of Delegates, the state Senate will resume the special session for education betterment this week.

Senate President Mitch Carmichael, R-Jackson, announced Friday that senators will return to Charleston at 5 p.m. today.

The Senate will consider 21 bills, including 11 supplemental appropriations bills and 10 bills dealing with different aspects of education. The largest of these is House Bill 206, a 144-page education reform omnibus that passed Wednesday 51-47 after a nearly nine-hour debate.

“After more than two years of work, careful study, bringing everyone to the table, and spirited debate, the West Virginia State Senate and House of Delegates each passed meaningful education reform legislation designed to improve student success, give parents more control over their children’s education, and invest more heavily in our teachers, all without raising a single tax on the hardworking taxpayers of this state,” Carmichael said in a statement .

HB 206 replaces Senate Bill 1039, the Student Success Act, that passed the Senate 18-15 on June 3. Both bills include greater investment in county school systems; increased funding for mental health professionals in schools; pay raises for teachers and school service personnel; and investment in high-need fields, such as math and science.

“Based upon national and state rankings, West Virginia’s education system has been failing our students, parents, teachers and taxpayers for decades,” Carmichael said. “Year after year after year, our schools have consistently ranked last or nearly last in all important categories. Career politicians and liberal union bosses refused to admit, much less address, the glaring problems in education.”

Other items included in HB 206 include: expansion of the West Virginia National Guard Mountaineer ChalleNGe Academy, open enrollment between counties, scholarships for teachers in math and special needs as long as they work in the state for two years, and a charter school program capped at three schools every three years.

Carmichael said the Senate Republican caucus supports HB 206, which he still calls the Student Success Act. Carmichael hopes that Senate Democrats agree to suspend the constitutional rules so that HB 206 can pass Monday without causing senators to be in Charleston for three days and cost taxpayers more money.

“The minority party in the West Virginia Legislature have all voted against these measures that are designed to lift our children from near last in student achievement,” Carmichael said. “I hope Governor Jim Justice joins us in saying that our children deserve better. I am very hopeful that Governor Justice will sign the Student Success Act so we can provide a world-class education to our students.”

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