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School board shares wishes with legislators

January 07, 2004|by DAVE McMILLION

charlestown@herald-mail.com

Giving the local school system a portion of slot machine revenue, allowing teachers to earn higher "locality pay" and improving the way the local school system is funded are among a list of items local school officials want lawmakers to push for in the state Legislature, which convenes next week in Charleston, W.Va.

Members of the Jefferson County Board of Education made the requests to a group of local state lawmakers during a meeting Tuesday night at the central office in Charles Town.

The requests included:

  • Giving the school system a portion of the slot machine revenue from Charles Town Races and Slots. Board of Education President Lori Stilley said the school system should be given a portion of the revenue, something the county and cities already receive. The Jefferson County Commissioners receive 2 percent of the track's slot machine revenues and cities receive some of the money after the county share reaches a certain level.

    Del. John Doyle said the idea has been considered before, but it probably will not get any attention this year.

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Setting aside some slot machine revenue for schools will require revisiting the state video lottery act, and no lawmaker will want to do that in an election year, said Doyle, D-Jefferson.

  • School board members want a higher locality pay for county teachers to help the teachers deal with a higher cost of living in the Eastern Panhandle.

    Doyle said lawmakers probably are "within a couple years of getting that."

    Sen. Herb Snyder, D-Jefferson, said passing locality pay would be easier if the West Virginia Education Association, the state teachers' union, would support it.

  • Changing the state school funding formula so counties get their funding based on the current year's student enrollment. Now, the state funding given to counties is based on the previous year's enrollment, Stilley said. That creates a problem of not having enough money for the school system when the student population is growing every year, she said. The current formula causes problems such as an insufficient number of buses to transport students, Stilley said.

  • Allowing certified teachers who transfer from other states to begin teaching in the county without being forced to undertake requirements such as additional course work. Even though the teachers have valid teaching certificates and licenses from other states, they often have to meet additional requirements before they can teach, school board members said. In some cases, the teachers have been named Teacher of the Year in the state in which they taught, said board member Cheryl Huff.

    "We're missing some really great opportunities," she said.

  • Creation of a task force to ensure that distribution of funds by the state School Building Authority is done through a defensible criteria. Stilley said she has a number of concerns about the way SBA money is distributed, including the fact that growing student populations are not part of the criteria.

  • Finding ways to fund requirements of the federal No Child Left Behind Act.
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