Updates to the 144-page Senate bill aimed at legalizing charter schools and increasing teacher pay came a day after Gov. Jim Justice threatened to veto the originalbill proposed by the West Virginia Senate Education Committee on Tuesday.
The new updates to the bill include removal of teacher-to-pupil ratio, making extracurricular activities prohibited during a work stoppage due to a strike, giving the state board of education rulemaking authority regarding public charter schools, capping education savings accounts at 2,500 accounts and modifying teachers’ bonus to allow $500 for every 10 days of sick leave.
On Tuesday, Justice said he wanted to see his proposed bill, which provides a 5 percent pay raise for all state employees, including teachers and school service personnel, pass through the legislature, separate from the 144-page bill.
Justice also proposed increased spending for the Public Employees Insurance Agency (PEIA) along with his pledge for teacher pay raises at his Jan. 9 State of the State address.
“My bill should be considered, and then if we want to debate all the other issues along the way, debate them and vote on them,” Justice said. “All we’re doing today is creating a mess when a mess doesn’t need to be created.”
Justice said he was also against paycheck protection, the non-severability clause and the adoption of statewide charter schools and education savings accounts that were proposed in the bill.
Senate President Mitch Carmichael made a near-unprecedented move to bypass the Senate Finance Committee and bring the bill to a vote before the entire chamber. The Senate Education Committee quickly passed the bill 7-5 along party lines last Friday.
The American Federation of Teachers-West Virginia, the state’s largest teachers’ union, strongly denounced the bill after it passed the education committee.