CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – In the end it wasn’t even close. The often contentious education reform measure was approved by the full house on a vote of 71 to 29. The controversial education savings accounts were completely taken out of the legislation, and the number of charter schools has gone from unlimited, to just two in a pilot program. At times the debate was emotional.
“And I’ll give our Education Committee credit. You took a pile of garbage, and you know, it doesn’t smell so bad anymore. I’ll give you some credit for that,” said Del. Shawn Fluharty, (D) Ohio.
“There’s a lot of good stuff in this bill. A couple of things I’m not wild about. But I’m telling you this is a good package, for that little kid getting on that school bus his first time,” said Del. Roy Cooper, (R) Summers.
A House amendment to put a police resources officers in every school in the state swayed some votes.
“We have added law enforcement, which is the most important thing we could have done in every school. So we’re going to have an officer in every school to protect these children in case something would happen,” said Del. Linda Longstreth, (D) Marion.
But others are concerned, the Senate may reinstitute Education Savings accounts.
“There’s just too many possibilities that money might be misused. And so I don’t like anything that even gives the opportunity for the misuse,” said Dale Lee, President, West Virginia Education Association.
The bill sticks to the promised 5-percent pay raise, like the pay-hike teachers won last year:
“I think that every member of the Legislature on both sides are ready to get this pay raise passed. It was something that’s been discussed since day one,” said Del. Danny Hamrick, Chair, (R) Harrison – Education Committee.
Teachers would also get a tax break for personal funds they spend on their students.
The bill now bounces back to the Senate where there could be changes, compromises or more fights.