In support for SB 359, a bill that helps improve our schools and creates more opportunities for putting student centered education as a chief goal. We have provided information that helps clarify the content and intent of Governor Tomblin's education reform bill.
The Committee Substitute for SB 359 may be accessed here.
Opponents say SB 359 does nothing to address student achievement.
Fact: SB 359 is part of an overall reform to public education in West Virginia. The Governor has also directed the State Board of Education to take several steps to address student achievement. SB 359 clears many of the hurdles that would prevent the Board from achieving its goals.
Opponents say SB 359 removes paid holidays for teachers, leaving them as the only public employees in the state that do not receive paid holidays.
Fact: SB 359 does not remove paid holidays for teachers. The bill allows counties to design a school calendar that provides for 180 days of classroom instruction. If the proposed calendar does not contain the current 7 paid holidays, the county board must provide other paid holidays to make them up.
--§18A-5-2 (SB 359 Com Sub, pp. 179-181)
Opponents say SB 359 eliminates the consideration of seniority in hiring.
Fact: SB 359 does not remove seniority from the hiring process. Currently, there are 7 criteria considered when hiring teachers for vacant positions. SB 359 maintains the 7 criteria that were reserved for administrative and non-classroom positions, applying them to teaching positions, and adds an 8th, allowing faculty senates and the principal to provide input in the hiring process. This change will give teachers a greater voice and respect their expertise on who will provide the best addition to their current education team. Additionally, the Committee Substitute for SB 359 adds language clarifying that a principal may not recommend a relative for employment.
--§18A-4-7a (SB 359 Com Sub, pp. 133-135)
--§18A-2-1 (SB 359 Com Sub, p. 101)
Opponents say SB 359 will require teachers to work more days for no additional pay.
Fact: SB 359 removes the provision of state code that deems a snow day as an instructional day. The fact is that on a snow day, children are not receiving classroom instruction. As Governor Tomblin said in his State of the State Address, this is a common sense change. Teachers will still be compensated for every day they work, and snow days will no longer be counted as instructional days or days of employment.
--Purpose of Bill (SB 359 Com Sub, p. 8)
Opponents say SB 359 will create a new statewide test to be administered to students.
Fact: SB 359 does not create a new statewide test. Instead, it calls for aligning current statewide assessments to national standards of college and career readiness.
--§18-2E-5 (SB 359 Com Sub, pp. 33-34)
Opponents say SB 359 allows employees to be transferred anytime of the year without the position being posted. A position that had been sought by an employee for years could suddenly be filled with another employee who doesn't even want it.
Fact: SB 359 seeks to solve the "bumping" dilemma that has existed for many years. SB 359 provides a method to move the least senior teacher, by county seniority, to a vacant position created in another school if the student-teacher ratio goes above or below what is permitted in code. The bill does not allow a principal to indiscriminately move teachers from one position to another. Additionally, the Committee Substitute for SB 359 clarifies that the transfer cannot be done after the last day of the 2nd month of school. Employees subject to a transfer have an opportunity to appear before the county board of education and state his/her objections. Employees who are transferred will not see any change in their contract term, compensation or benefits.
--§18A-2-7 (SB 359 Com Sub, pp. 104-106)
Opponents say SB 359 restricts faculty senate meetings from 10 to only 1 at the beginning of the school year.
Fact: SB 359 does not limit faculty senate meetings to only one per year. The introduced version of the bill called for one meeting to be held prior to the beginning of the school year and permitted faculty senates to meet on an unlimited basis during non-instructional days. The Committee Substitute for SB 359 added a two-hour block of time on non-instructional days to be scheduled once every 45 instructional days, for a total of 4 meetings in addition to the first. Faculty senates may still schedule additional meeting time on non-instructional days as they see fit, allowing teachers and administrators the ability to meet according to their own school's needs. The bill redefines an instructional day to mean a day when children are present in school. This change will ensure that children are receiving a full 180 days of classroom instruction, increasing time spent learning.
--§18-5-45 (SB 359 Com Sub, p. 92)
Opponents say SB 359 will allow employees under the 200-day employment term to be scheduled for any arrangement within the 365 day calendar, eliminating breaks and time off.
Fact: SB 359 removes the provision in state code mandating the 200-day employment term to be scheduled within 43 weeks. This allows each county school board to determine a calendar that best suits local needs, not one mandated from the state level. This also allows the county school board to ensure students are instructed for 180 days. If a county school board proposes changes to the school calendar, public meetings are required to gather input from the community.
--§18-5-45 (SB 359 Com Sub, pp. 90-94)
Opponents say SB 359 will cause kindergarten aides to be laid off due to new certification requirements.
Fact: SB 359 does require certification for kindergarten aides to ensure our children are receiving the best education possible. The bill provides a lengthy window for current aides to attain certification if they wish to continue on as kindergarten aides. No one will automatically be laid off from these positions as a result of this bill. Additionally, language was added to the Committee Substitute for SB 359 that any person employed as a kindergarten aide who will be retiring on or before July 1, 2020 may remain employed without acquiring licensure.
--§18-5-18 (SB 359 Com Sub, p. 78)
Opponents say SB 359 will cause teachers to have only 30 minutes to plan for an entire day.
Fact: The introduced version of SB 359 sought to equalize planning periods by stipulating that a planning period would be the length of the shortest period of the day, provided it not be less than 30 minutes. The Committee Substitute for SB 359 maintains current language regarding planning periods and commissions a study by the West Virginia Department of Education to be reported to the Legislature by December 31, 2013. The study shall include information as to the appropriate length of a planning period for different grade levels and types of class schedules.
--§18A-4-14 (SB 359 Com Sub, pp. 177-179)
Opponents say SB 359 will hinder professional development for teachers.
Fact: SB 359 seeks to enable more professional development for teachers by moving it to the local level. Instead of traveling to Charleston to receive professional development, teachers will be able to work with RESAs (Regional Education Service Agencies) to determine the professional development they need to best help their students.
--§18-2I-4 (SB 359 Com Sub, pp. 72-74)
Opponents say SB 359 will allow Teach for America participants to be hired over a certified teacher for a vacant position.
Fact: SB 359 does not place more value on a participant of a national teacher corps than a certified teacher. SB 359 would allow a national teacher corps participant to be hired in a critical need area where certified teachers are not applying for vacant positions. Allowing an expert in their field to teach students is a much better alternative that rotating substitute teachers in and out of vacant positions, preventing a consistent learning environment for students. Participants of these programs will undergo rigorous evaluations and professional development during their time in the classroom. In addition, teaching corps applicants will be interviewed and employed under the same rules and regulations as all teaching employees.
--§18A-3-1d (SB 359 Com Sub, pp. 106-112)
--§18A-3-1e (SB 359 Com Sub, pp. 112-113)