Senate Bill No. 229
(By Senators Kessler (Acting President) and Hall,
By Request of the Executive)
[Originating in the Committee on Finance;
reported February 23, 2011.]
A BILL to amend the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, by adding thereto a new article, designated §18-2F-1, §18-2F-2, §18-2F-3, §18-2F-4, §18-2F-5 and §18-2F-6, all relating to creating the Math and Science Teacher Loan Assistance Program; providing legislative purpose; defining certain terms; creating a special revenue fund; requiring legislative rules; establishing procedures for identifying public schools or geographic areas in critical need of math and science teachers; administering loan assistance program; authorizing solicitation and certain match of private funds; providing selection criteria and procedures for candidates; requiring certain agreements and contracts; establishing conditions for addressing renewal, noncompliance, deferral and exceptions; and setting limits on amount of loan assistance per recipient.
Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:
That the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, be amended by adding thereto a new article, designated §18-2F-1, §18-2F-2, §18-2F-3, §18-2F-4, §18-2F-5 and §18-2F-6, all to read as follows:
ARTICLE 2F. MATH AND SCIENCE TEACHER LOAN ASSISTANCE PROGRAM.
For the purposes of this article, the following words have the meanings ascribed to them unless the context clearly indicates a different meaning:
“Agreement” means the loan assistance contract between the department and the certified teacher seeking an award;
“Area of critical need” means a school or geographic area of West Virginia identified by the department where there exists a critical shortage of math and science teachers;
“Award” means a monetary amount paid from the Math and Science Teacher Loan Assistance Fund to an eligible recipient’s educational loan institution pursuant to this article;
“Department” means the West Virginia Department of Education;
“Fund” or “loan fund” means the Math and Science Teacher Loan Assistance Fund created pursuant to this article;
“Program” means the Math and Science Teacher Loan Assistance Program created pursuant to this article; and
“Recipient” means a certified math or science teacher who is eligible to receive an award pursuant to the terms of this article and state board rule.
§18-2F-2. Loan assistance program created; purpose; funding; legislative rule required.
(a) There is hereby created the “Math and Science Teacher Loan Assistance Program”. The purpose of the program is to improve the quality of education in the public schools of the state by attracting and retaining West Virginia teachers who are certified to teach math and science in areas of critical need.
(b) There is hereby created in the State Treasury a special revenue fund known as the "Math and Science Teacher Loan Assistance Fund" to be administered by the department solely for the purposes set forth in this article.
(1) Any moneys appropriated or otherwise designated or accruing to the fund and all earnings payable to it, including, but not limited to, those funds identified in subsection (e) of this section, shall be deposited into the fund.
(2) The loan fund shall operate as a special revenue fund whereby all deposits and payments to the loan fund do not expire to the General Revenue Fund, but remain in the loan fund and are available for expenditure in succeeding fiscal years. Balances in the loan fund shall be invested with the state's consolidated investment fund.
(3) Expenditures from the fund are authorized from collections.
(4) Any moneys repaid to the department by reason of default of an agreement made pursuant to this article also shall be deposited into the fund.
(c) The state board shall promulgate a legislative rule in accordance with the provisions of article three-b, chapter twenty-nine-a of this code for the administration of the program in furtherance of the purposes of this article. The rule shall include, but is not limited to, the following:
(1) Establishing criteria and procedures for identifying public schools or geographic areas in critical need of math and science teachers;
(2) Awarding loan assistance, including establishing conditions under which partial awards may be granted for less than a full year of teaching in an area of critical need;
(3) Determining eligibility for loan assistance renewal;
(4) Establishing criteria for determining participant compliance or noncompliance with terms of the agreement and establishing procedures to address noncompliance including, but not limited to, repayment, deferral and excusal;
(5) Establishing procedures ensuring that loan assistance funds are paid directly to the proper lending entity; and
(6) Developing model agreements.
(d) In accordance with the legislative rule promulgated pursuant to subsection (c) of this section, the department shall establish appropriate guidelines for program operation.
(e) The department may accept and deposit into the fund any gift, grant, contribution, bequest, endowment or other moneys designated to be used for the purposes of this article and may expend these funds as provided in this article and by state board rule.
(f) The department shall encourage support for the program from private sources and may set aside up to one half of the funds appropriated by the Legislature to match two state dollars for each private dollar from a nonstate source deposited into the fund.
§18-2F-3. Selection criteria and procedures.
(a) Eligibility for an award is limited to a teacher who meets the following requirements:
(1) Has earned a teaching degree and is certified to teach math or science in the public schools of West Virginia. A certified math or science teacher who is enrolled in advanced degree courses or who has earned an advanced degree may apply for an award to be paid toward current or future education loans;
(2) Has agreed to teach, or currently is teaching, math or science in a state school or geographic area of the state identified as an area of critical need.
(b) In accordance with the rule promulgated pursuant to section two of this article, the department shall develop criteria and procedures for the administration of the program. These shall include, but are not limited to, ensuring that awards are given only on the condition that the recipient adheres to an agreement to teach math or science in the identified school or geographic area of critical need.
(c) The department shall make available program application forms to public and private schools in the state via the department’s website and in other locations convenient to potential applicants.
§18-2F-4. Loan assistance agreement.
(a) Before receiving an award, each eligible teacher shall enter into an agreement with the department and shall meet the following criteria:
(1) Provide the department with evidence of compliance with subsection (a), section five of this article;
(2) Teach math or science full-time under contract with a county board in an area of critical need for a period of one school year for each year for which loan assistance is received pursuant to this article. The department may grant a partial award to an eligible recipient whose contract term is for less than a full school year pursuant to criteria established by state board rule.
(3) Acknowledge that an award is to be paid to the recipient’s educational loan institution, not directly to the recipient, only after the department determines that the recipient has complied with all terms of the agreement; and
(4) Repay all or part of an award received pursuant to this article if the award is not paid to the educational loan institution or if the recipient does not comply with the other terms of the agreement.
(b) Each agreement shall fully disclose the terms and conditions under which an award may be granted pursuant to this article and under which repayment may be required. The agreement also shall include the conditions and procedures established by section five of this article.
§18-2F-5. Renewal conditions; noncompliance; deferral; excusal.
(a) The recipient is eligible for renewal only during the periods when the recipient is under contract with a county board to teach math or science in a school or geographic area of critical need and complies with other criteria and conditions the state board establishes by rule.
(b) A recipient is not in violation of the agreement entered into under section four of this article during any period in which the recipient meets the following conditions:
(1) Serves as a member of the armed services of the United States for a period not to exceed four years; or
(2) Is unable to fulfill the agreement due to death, permanent or temporary disability or a condition covered under the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993.
§18-2F-6. Amount and duration of loan assistance; limits.
(a) Each award recipient is eligible to receive assistance of up to $2,000 annually subject to limits set forth in subsection (b) of this section:
(1) If the recipient has taught math or science for a full school year under contract with a county board in a school or geographic area of critical need; and
(2) If the recipient otherwise has complied with the terms of the agreement and with provisions of this article and any rules promulgated pursuant thereto.
(b) No recipient may receive loan assistance pursuant to this article which accumulates in excess of $10,000.