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Amended bill could now interfere with school consolidation


The Register-Herald

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A Senate Bill meant to prevent State Board of Education rule and policy changes from affecting school districts in the midst of consolidation has been amended to reverse its purpose.

Senate Bill 621 originally stated that changes to West Virginia Board of Education policies, procedures or rules “shall not be applicable to the school closing or consolidation project(s)” described in written notice to the state board.

The House of Delegates amended the bill Wednesday to remove the word “not.” As the bill stands it would mean policy changes could interfere with districts that have already had their Comprehensive Educational Facilities Plans approved and have begun the school closure process.

Fayette County Superintendent Terry George said his understanding of the bill’s original intent was to give schools already involved in the process the ability to complete consolidation projects under original policies.

“I believe the intent was that counties, like Fayette, who have been involved in this process over a year do not have to start all over again,” he said.

George said the State Board of Education under the leadership of Tom Campbell, who has been vocal about his support for community schools, have already modified West Virginia Department of Education Policy 6200 and 6204.

Policy 6200 pertains to how counties maintain and update their Comprehensive Educational Facilities Plan, and policy 6204 sets down the school closing and consolidation procedures.

Should the Senate Bill go into effect as amended, George said it would drastically interfere with the county’s ability to provide safe schools for students and develop meaningful curriculum.

“If we had to start the process all over again, it would set us back by three years, and we have several schools that aren’t going to last that long,” he added.

The School Building Authority in December 2016 approved funding for two new schools in Oak Hill, and the district is currently in the design phase of those projects.

A series of closure hearings are set to begin April 25.

The amended bill must now return the the Senate.

The bill was sponsored by Sen. Greg Boso, R-Nicholas.

Nicholas County has already held closure hearings for Richwood middle and high schools. Their amended facilities plan must be approved by the State Board of Education.

Nicholas Superintendent Donna Burge-Tetrick was out of office Thursday and could not be reached for comment.

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