|UPDATE 2/16/2019 - Following weeks of amendments and changes, the Omnibus Education Bill has been sent back the WV Senate.|
Still in the mammoth bill is changing the state school funding formula to help finance about a dozen state school systems whose student enrollment has dropped below 1,400.
Those systems are facing critical financial shortfalls because of their student enrollment loss.
Calhoun's total enrollment is below 1,000 students.
If the bill passes the 1,400 Rule, those systems would be funded as if they had 1,400 students.
Ed watchers believe that it will be dropped by the Senate, related to its costs.
Calhoun Superintendent of Schools says its passage is essential to operate the Calhoun school system.
Meanwhile, the Omnibus Education Bill still includes funding to place an officer in all West Virginia schools at a cost of $40 million dollars.
UPDATE 2/10/2019 - Three teacher unions say they are ready and able to enact a work-action if needed as Senate Bill 451, better known at the Omnibus Education Bill, moves through the legislative process.
Leaders with West Virginia Education Association, the American Federation of Teachers-West Virginia, and West Virginia School Service Personnel Association
counted authorization votes from counties across the state in Flatwoods on Saturday and say individual teachers overwhelmingly support the decision if necessary.
On Friday AFT-WV President Fred Albert told Metro News they are happy with the direction the House Education Committee is traveling with the bill but expect more changes and aren't afraid to use the power of numbers to rally.
"We are watching every day, every hour of the bill," said Fred Albert, a union president.
2/9/2019 - After attempts not to have public hearings regarding the legislature's proposed fast track Omnibus Education Bill, two are scheduled Monday.
The bill is chocked full of proposals to reform the state system, enough to make proponents more than happy and opponents to question the veracity of many of the proposals, some of which came directly from a longtime Republican lobbying group ALEC.
Calhoun County Superintendent of Schools Kelli Whytsell said she had
emailed Senators and Speaker of the House Hanshaw on the areas of the bill that she has concerns.
Calhoun Schools are barely getting by with the current funding stream, which would be dramatically reduced by siphoning off tax money to operate Charter and other private schools.
"The bill contains sections that if passed would be a tremendous benefit to Calhoun County Schools. The section setting the base funding floor at 1400 students for funding is needed for Calhoun County. I have been advocating for this for the last two years. I think the House has and will continue to make changes to the bill. I just hope 1400 stays in the final version of the bill," Whytsell says.
Jacob McCumbers, local President for West Virginia Education Association said, "I urge people to contact your House Legislation members, especially President Hanshaw and members of the Education House Committee and tell them to vote No for Senate Bill 451."
"Although the House Committte is headed in the right direction, many more changes are needed in the Senate Bill," McCumbers said.
He said positives about the bill are the pay increase, funding of PEIA, "stay safe at 1400," which will help fund the 11 smaller counties, including Calhoun whose enrollment has dropped below 1,000.
McCumbers said we do not need charter schools and we need to keep our seniority included in RIF and transfers.
All 55 counties were given instructions by the educators unions to do an authorization of votes, in case there came a time they issued a walk-out.
The county union leaders will join in a combined meeting this Saturday to discuss further details.