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Senate Education expands, advances free West Virginia community college bill


Charleston Gazette-Mail

Johnny Moore, president of Pierpont Community & Technical College, testifies Tuesday before West Virginia Senate Education Committee members (from left): Sue Cline, R-Wyoming; Mike Azinger, R-Wood; Robert Beach, D-Monongalia; Mike Romano, D-Harrison; and Donna Boley, R-Pleasants.
(Gazette-Mail photo by Chris Dorst)

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — West Virginia’s Senate Education Committee advanced a bill Tuesday to make in-state community college free, after amending the legislation to offer the opportunity to more students.

“I want you to remember this day, if you will,” said Committee Chairman Kenny Mann, R-Monroe, after his committee passed Senate Bill 284 on to the Senate Finance Committee in a voice vote with no nays heard. He said it could be a historic day in education.

“Nothing’s perfect, but I really believe this is a great start,” Mann said.
There were no nays heard in accepting an amended version of the bill that more clearly offered free community college to home-schooled and private school students, as well as public school students. There were nays heard, however, in a voice vote to offer it to students under 20 who haven’t gone through special programs.

Sen. Mike Romano, D-Harrison, made the successful amendment that removed the restriction that said students not taking part in “Advanced Career Education” programs, which start in high school, must wait until they’re at least 20 before receiving free community college.

Romano’s amendment made the eligible age 18 or younger, if a student has earned a high school diploma or its equivalent. This seems to effectively make the ACE programs optional.

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