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Lawmaker, superintendents react to bill

W.Va. measure requires school administrators to serve as substitute teachers

April 10, 2013|By RICHARD F. BELISLE | richardb@herald-mail.com

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. — All six Eastern Panhandle Republican members of the West Virginia House of Delegates voted against a bill that requires central office administrators to substitute for absent teachers three days a year.

Senate Bill 80 was sent Tuesday to Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin as a move to reduce substitute teacher costs, which can amount to $125 per day per substitute.

Seventy-eight Democrats in the House of Delegates voted for the bill, while 20 Republicans opposed the measure.

Area Republicans opposed the bill because the authority to enforce it rested with the state, not local school boards.

Del. Paul Espinosa, a Republican who represents Jefferson County’s 66th District, said he spoke against the bill.

“I have no problem if local school districts want administrators to substitute,” Espinosa said. “My problem is that this is a state mandate.”

There’s nothing in the current law that precludes a local superintendent from using administrators as substitutes, he said.

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Espinosa said a study by the Education Efficiency Audit of West Virginia’s Primary and Secondary Systems showed that “West Virginia is one of the most centralized state education bureaucracies in the United States.”

All three Eastern Panhandle school superintendents — Manny P. Arvon in Berkeley County, David Banks in Morgan County and Susan Wall in Jefferson County — said their central office administrators substitute for absent teachers when necessary.

“We’ve been doing it for a long time in emergency situations,” Wall said.

“We don’t do it formally or routinely, but when there’s a problem, an administrator goes, we send an administrator into a classroom,” Banks said. He believes the new bill “is a good idea.”

Arvon said administrators can cover for absent teachers when another substitute is unavailable.

It saves the district money in substitute costs, plus it’s an opportunity for an administrator to see how things are going in a classroom.

“It’s always an advantage when an administrator can get into a classroom,” Arvon said.

Only administrators with certified teaching certificates substitute, he said.

In addition to Espinosa, Eastern Panhandle Republicans who voted against the bill were Berkeley County delegates Larry Faircloth, Michael Folk, Eric Householder and John Overington, and Daryl Cowles of Morgan County.

Eastern Panhandle Democrats who voted for the bill were Tiffany Lawrence and Stephen Skinner of Jefferson County and Jason Barrett of Berkeley County.

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