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W.Va. School Board Hears Senate Speaker |

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Charleston – Wednesday was the first day for the West Virginia School Board. A visit by the school’s new state superintendent, two new commission members, and the state’s lieutenant governor pledged to work with commission members to focus on public education.

The school board held its regular monthly meeting Wednesday at the Department of Education office. First on the agenda were statements from Senate Speaker Craig Blair, R-Berkeley.

Speaking on the topic of “working together to improve education,” Blair is attending a school board meeting for the first time and wants to make a change.

“We want to give you resources and work with you,” Blair told board members. “We want to be there to help. We’ve been stymied in the past by confrontations between you and us Let’s end the day there’s no need for that We all want to row the boat in the same direction increase.”

Blair said legislators who have spent the past few years focusing on expanding school choice options across the state now want to turn their attention to working with the school board to improve student achievement in the public school system. I said yes.

A new focus will come as the Board and the Ministry of Education take a new direction. Former Logan County School Board president and former Democratic state senator Paul Hardesty was elected president of the state board in July.

Since then, the board has elected David Roach, a former teacher, county school administrator and most recently executive director of the Office of School Buildings, as state superintendent of schools in August.

“When this board hired Roach at its last meeting, I asked the public and the media to determine his qualifications,” Hardesty said. “There’s not a lot he doesn’t do. What I’m really excited about is thinking he shares the same vision as me.

The board also welcomed new members – former SBA members Victor Gabriel and Chris Stansbury, former Republican congressman from Kanawha County and former director of the Conservative Cardinal Institute for West Virginia Policy. . They will replace former directors Miller Hall and Tom Campbell.

A report released Wednesday by the COVID-19 School Data Hub found that students in West Virginia experienced a drastic drop in ELA and math performance due to school closures in 2020 and 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. A West Virginia student’s math and her ELA proficiency scores in 2021 dropped 9.5% from pre-pandemic levels in 2019. His proficiency score improved slightly in 2022, putting him 5.7% below his 2019 level.

Hardesty said his goal during his term as chairman of the state board is to refocus efforts toward improving the proficiency scores of the Department of Education and county boards of education.

“We’re going back to basics,” Hardesty said. “We intend to bring back literacy, math, and the arts of English as core. Look to the people, if this fails I’ll take the blame.But we have to get back to basics.”

Blair said Congress shares the same goals. Senator Amy Grady (R-Mason) was appointed as the new chairman of the Senate Education Committee. Grady has been a public school teacher since 2007 and has been teaching 4th grade for over 12 years. According to Blair, Grady is the first teacher to chair the Senate Education Committee in more than 50 years.

Blair said that appointing a public school employee as school board president would start a dialogue between public school employees and the legislature to help teachers, school service workers, and administrators do a better job. We hope that we will be able to make the necessary improvements to help you.

“I look forward to seeing the legislature and state boards of education, county boards of education, teachers, and school service representatives all having a direct pipeline and working together to do what we all care about: educating our students. ’ said Blair. “Our job is to make sure they’re hireable when they go out. Your job is to make sure they’re not ranked lowest or near lowest.”

Grady will replace R-Jefferson’s Senator Patricia Rucker as chairman of the Senate Education Committee. Blair says the move has been on record for some time, but was announced after Rucker said he would challenge Blair’s Senate presidency later this year.

The Senate on Tuesday voted to create a new selection committee on alternative educational opportunities, chaired by Rucker. Under an injunction pending litigation in the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals, the Commission has approved Congressional contributions over the past several years to create the state’s first public charter school pilot project, the HOPE Scholarship Education Savings Account Program. Focus on your efforts. Expansion of micro-schools and learning pods.

Blair said replacing Rucker with Grady was not retaliation for Rucker’s challenge to the presidency. The new selection committee will allow Rucker to continue her work on school selection in West Virginia, he said.

“[Lucker]has done nothing wrong in this, but times are different. Times are changing. You adapt. I’m not going to send a welder out to do an electrician’s job.” said Blair. “The reason is the work we have been doing over the past six or seven years and we want to make sure it continues and succeeds. Then the tide lifts all the boats, which raises them.”

Voters will also have two opportunities on Tuesday, November 8, to approve two constitutional amendments that could affect the regulation and funding of education in West Virginia. The Fourth Amendment gives Congress rulemaking power to approve or reject rules made by the Department of Education. The Second Amendment gives legislators the power to reduce or eliminate her six categories of property taxes.

The county government and county school system rely on property taxes for funding, with more than $515 million in tangible property taxes, including manufacturing, equipment, and inventory taxes assessed during the 2021 tax year. Senate Republicans have developed a plan to replace tax revenue. Use a formula that raises funds directly from the general revenue budget and funds the county at least $1 million more than the county’s assessed tangible property tax value.

“The Second Amendment doesn’t hurt county boards or counties,” Blair said. “I believe West Virginia will pass a property tax amendment.”

The West Virginia County Association and the West Virginia County Commissioners Association voted against Amendment 2 last week. The West Virginia Association of School Administrators voted against Amendment 2 in July.

Steven Allen Adams can be reached at sadams@newsandsentinel.com.