The Senate passed the Student Success Act on an 18-15-1 vote, following a lengthy debate Monday morning. Following an hour recess, the Senate returned, suspended the constitutional rules requiring a bill be read on three separate days, and passed the Education Savings Account Act by the same vote.
The Student Success Act (SB1039) includes a variety of proposed changes to the public education system, including pay increases, charter schools under the purview of county and state boards of education, increased support personnel for schools, open enrollment, incentives to fill in-demand positions and financial support for smaller county school systems, among other things.
On Sunday, the Senate amended the bill to withold pay and prevent extracurricular activities during a public school strike. The amendment also prevents superintendents from being able to close school during a work stoppage. The change codifies that strikes of this nature are illegal.
Education savings accounts (ESAs) allow parents to withdraw their children from public district or charter schools and receive a deposit of public funds into government-authorized savings accounts with restricted, but multiple, uses. The funds can cover private school tuition and fees, online learning programs, private tutoring, and other approved learning materials and programs.
Senate Bill 1040 does not have a limitation in overall number, total amount spent or a set type of student that could qualify, such as special needs.
The state Department of Education would make the money available to the state Treasurer, which would operate the program. If insufficient funding is available, priority would go to students whose applications were submitted first.
Parents could apply for an education savings account after July 1, 2020. The household income of applying families is not to exceed $150,000 a year. A parental review committee would be established to help the Treasurer oversee the use of the program.
The Senate adopted four amendments to the Student Success Act and advanced the bill to third reading during a Sunday afternoon floor session.
Senator Charlie Trump (R-Morgan, 15) successfully amended the bill. His change deals with the withholding of pay and preventing extracurricular activities during a public school strike. The amendment also prevents superintendents from being able to close school during a work stoppage. The change codifies that strikes of this nature are illegal.
Senator Ryan Weld (R-Brooke, 1) amended the bill to remove an institution of higher education from being a potential authorizer of charter schools, among other changes.
Senator Eric Tarr (R-Putnam, 4) amended the bill to allow county boards to establish an exceptional needs fund from surpluses for students who are likely to perform better outside of the public school setting.
Senator Patricia Rucker (R-Jefferson, 16) made a technical amendment to the bill.
An amendment by Senator Bill Hamilton, (R-Upshur, 11) to allow county voters to approve charter schools by referendum, was rejected.
The bill will be up for a vote on third reading in the Senate tomorrow.
Senate Bill 1040, Education Savings Account Act, was approved by the Rules Committee, read a first time, and will be on second reading tomorrow.
The Senate has adjourned until tomorrow, June 3, at 9 a.m.
The Senate reconvened the 1st Extraordinary session Saturday morning, introducing Senate Bill 1039, Establishing the Student Success Act, as well as several other bills.
The bill includes a variety of proposed changes to the public education system, including pay increases, charter schools under the purview of county and state boards of education, increased support personnel for schools, open enrollment, incentives to fill in-demand positions and financial support for smaller county school systems, among other things.
The bill removes concepts that were controversial during the 2019 regular session, including education savings accounts, “paycheck protection” and a nonseverability clause.
Other changes made to the bill late Friday night included:
• Removing authority of county boards to increase their regular levy rate.
• Correcting language in the teacher-pupil ratio section to be consistent with the intent to not
change class sizes.
• Removing all of the strike/work stoppage language except for prohibiting extracurricular
activities on days school is closed due to a work stoppage or strike.
• Adding language to the Innovation in Education article providing that no waivers from state
board rules can be granted without the approval of the State Board.
• Allowing any accredited WV public institution of higher education to apply to convert or create a
charter school, but prohibits an institution of higher education from applying to itself or another
institution of higher education.
• Making several changes to provisions relating to the searchable budget database and website
such as adding language providing that the State Superintendent shall not be required to violate
FERPA; and providing that employee addresses are not to be made public or otherwise
displayed on the budget data website.
• Removing language providing that net enrollment does not include any adult charged tuition or
special fees beyond that required of the regular secondary vocational student.
A motion to suspend the constitutional rules requiring a bill be read on three separate days for SB1039 failed on a 18-15 vote. A 4/5 vote was needed to suspend the rules. Senate Bill 1039 will be on second reading on Sunday, June 2.
Senate Bill 1040, Education Savings Account Act, was also intoduced. A motion to take the bill up for immediate consideration failed. The bill will be on first reading tomorrow, June 2.
Finally, the Senate amended and passed House Bill 118, which relates to the use of post-criminal conduct in professional and occupational initial licensure decision making. The bill had passed earlier in the special session. Corrections were made today to avoid unintended consequences and get the legislation more in line with its intent. The bill now goes to the House of Delegates for consideration.
The Senate has adourned until tomorrow, June 2, at 2:00pm.