CHARLESTON, W.Va. – On Feb. 4, the State of West Virginia took a major step forward on the road to improving our school system by passing Senate Bill 451, legislation containing comprehensive education reform. The bill has now moved over to the House of Delegates. Senator Patricia Rucker (R – Jefferson, 16), Chair of the Senate Education Committee and lead sponsor of the bill, helped to deliver the expansive legislation intended to revamp the state’s education system.
“A quality education is the greatest gift we can give our children,” said Senator Rucker. “Education equals freedom, freedom to be who you want to be, freedom to go where you want to go in this life. While getting a quality education is a goal, education is also a process.”
The 140-page piece of legislation reforms education in crucial ways to help the teachers of West Virginia succeed so that their students can succeed. The bill provides another significant pay raise for teachers and service personnel – an additional increase of five percent. Teachers will also be given a $250 tax credit for the purchase of curricular, co-curricular, and extracurricular educational materials.
The omnibus bill also gives families important options and choices as to what type of education they want for their children. It authorizes the creation of public charter schools having more flexibility than traditional public schools, and Education Savings Accounts (ESA) to give parents more flexibility with regard to opportunities for their children. Students who are awarded an ESA can keep the account all the through 12th grade. Money in the account will also rollover from year to year.
“The West Virginia State Constitution charges us with the responsibility of providing a quality education for our children, and I take that responsibility seriously,” said Senator Rucker. “Senate Bill 451 is an important first step towards comprehensive education reform.”