The Fayette Tribune, Oak Hill, W.Va.

Local News

March 4, 2013

Changes coming at ed department, lawmakers assured

CHARLESTON — In advance of legislative action on Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin’s ambitious education package, steps already are in progress to trim the “top heavy” state Department of Education, lawmakers were assured Thursday.

On the second leg of what promises to be an exhaustive look into the governor’s bill, freshman Sen. Bill Cole, R-Mercer, wondered aloud if it makes any move to get some weight off the top of the education bureaucracy.

“What I think everybody desires is delivering a better product, a better end product out there,” Cole said.

“When our state is identified as being one of the most top-heavy regulated in the whole country and we’re virtually in last place, there is some connection that the money is being spent in the wrong place, or in the wrong way,” Cole told state board President Wade Linger.

Linger said the recent audit that Tomblin sought says the heavy regulations lie in the state code, not within the Department of Education.

Tomblin’s bill seeks to pull much of the code out and leave it to policy.

“At the state board level, we’re developing policies now to push that on down to the local level,” he told Cole.

“One area embarked on is reallocating resources out of Building Six and shoving them to RESAs, which puts them into districts.”

A second prong is to shift some resources into the Office of Educational Performance Audit (an outgrowth of the landmark Recht decision that reviews schools through an audit process), he said.

“First, we need to go through the process and see how much reform there is going to be,” Linger said.

Since attention began to be focused on reforms, he told Cole, the board has left 25 positions vacant through attrition without any dismissals.

Linger said another section of the 179-page bill seeks accountability so the attention isn’t given merely to failing schools.

“We think all schools deserve the same attention,” he said.

“You could be falling, but not down to the failing point. The way things work now, we pretty much ignore it until you actually start failing.”

Hallie Mason, the governor’s policy director, sought to clarify some “misconceptions” that have surfaced since the bill was introduced in this session.

One is that the measure harms teachers. Already, the bill has come under fire from both the West Virginia Education Association and the state affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers. Leaders of both likely will address the Senate Education Committee when the marathon study of the bill resumes Tuesday.

“We believe it empowers them, and does not hurt them,” Mason said of the impact on teachers.

Moreover, the proposal allows teachers a voice in the hiring process and doesn’t subtract the faculty senate days, allowing such meetings for an unlimited block of time during non-instructional days, of which there are a dozen, Mason said.

Nor does the bill remove any holidays for teachers, but maintains them, she said, adding that they are to be allotted two more for a total of seven if schools switch to a balanced calendar.

Mason told the panel, chaired by Sen. Robert Plymale, D-Wayne, that the idea of Tomblin’s bill is to produce the best possible outcomes and get the highest return for dollars invested in education.

“Compared nationally, our test scores are slipping and what we’re doing is not working,” she said.

Based on feedback from the business community, she said a skilled, educated workforce is needed.

“Therefore, we no longer can conduct business as usual in the classrooms,” she added.

— E-mail:

Text Only
Local News
  • Mega Pro Wrestling plans Montgomery show

    Mega Pro Wrestling will stage a professional wrestling card this Friday, April 25, at the Living Waters Family Worship Center (former Montgomery Middle School building) in Montgomery.

    April 24, 2014

  • 1A1 1 erin discus.jpg Spring cleaning

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Kids’ fun is camp’s goal

    There’s one primary goal, Mike Bone says.

    April 23, 2014

  • Late Sen. Robert K. (Bob) Holliday to be memorialized

    The Fayetteville courtroom of Chief Judge John W. Hatcher Jr. of the Twelfth Judicial Circuit will provide a time and place for friends from across the county and state to pay tribute to the late Sen. Robert K. (Bob) Holliday.

    April 23, 2014

  • 3A1 hula hoops.jpg Fayetteville celebration pairs entertainment with environment

    When you’re finished with this newspaper, what are you going to do with it? Will you just chuck it in the trash or will you recycle it? A local celebration has the goal of opening your eyes to what everyone can do to help the environment, from building with junk to clean coal technology.

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Commissioners say Mega-Site would benefit entire region

    With four counties in a seeming competition for what would be a major economic development coup, it might be safe to assume that county commissioners from all four would be ready to throw down the gauntlet to promote their turf.

    April 21, 2014

  • No sale for sewer system

    Oak Hill city council met in regular session Monday to talk ordinance adoption and smoking issues reported in Oak Hill City Park, which was an issue recently raised to Oak Hill City Manager Bill Hannabass.

    April 17, 2014

  • New River Gorge Regional Development Authority looks to develop ‘mega-site’

    Local leaders are looking for a large return on the region’s major assets — four-lane highways and the Raleigh County Memorial Airport — in the form of a 500-acre Mega-Site, which could attract a bumper crop of economic engines in technology, cognitive science, clean energy and manufacturing industries.

    April 14, 2014

  • spencer outside.jpg Lions’ annual style, variety show Friday

    The Oak Hill Lions Club’s 71st annual Style and Variety Show is slated for 7:30 p.m. on Friday, April 11 at the Oak Hill High School Auditorium. Admission is $2.

    April 10, 2014 1 Photo

  • Fayette law enforcement deals with tax filing scam

    According to a release from Sheriff Steve Kessler, the Fayette County Sheriff’s Office is investigating a scam involving the filing of false tax returns.

    April 7, 2014