Senate Bill No. 229
(By Senators Kessler (Acting President) and Hall,
By Request of the Executive)
[Introduced January 21, 2011; referred to the Committee on Education; and then to the Committee on Finance.]
A BILL to amend the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, by adding thereto a new article, designated §18C-8-1, §18C-8-2, §18C-8-3, §18C-8-4 and §18C-8-5, all relating to creating the Math and Science Teacher Loan Assistance Program; providing legislative purposes of the loan assistance program; creating a special revenue fund to administer the loan assistance program; requiring the State Department of Education to promulgate legislative rules for administering the loan assistance program; identifying geographic areas or schools in critical need of math and science teachers; administering the application and award process and other aspects of the loan assistance program; providing loan assistance to math and science teachers who agree to teach in critical needs areas or schools; permitting the State Department of Education to solicit funds for the loan assistance program; providing selection criteria and procedures for loan assistance recipients; providing conditions for renewal, noncompliance, deferral and exceptions within the loan assistance program; and providing the amount of loan assistance per teacher and the duration of the loan assistance program.
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 §18C-8-1, §18C-8-2, §18C-8-3, §18C-8-4 and §18C-8-5, all to read as follows:
ARTICLE 8. MATH AND SCIENCE TEACHER LOAN ASSISTANCE PROGRAM.
§18C-8-1. Loan assistance program created; purpose; funding.
(a) It is the purpose of this article to create the Math and Science Teacher Loan Assistance Program to improve the quality of education in the public schools of West Virginia by attracting and retaining West Virginia teachers certified to teach math and science in the public schools of this state in areas of our state facing critical shortages of math and science teachers. To effectuate the purpose of this article, there is hereby created the “Math and Science Teacher Loan Assistance Program.”
(b) There is hereby created in the State Treasury a special revenue fund to be known as the "Math and Science Teacher Loan Assistance Fund" to be administered by the Department of Education solely for providing assistance to certified math and science teachers who accept or retain positions in schools or geographic areas designated as those being in critical need of math and science teachers in accordance with this article. Any moneys deposited into, otherwise designated or accruing to the fund and all earnings payable to it, including, but not limited to, those funds identified in subsection (d) of this section for the purposes of this article, shall be deposited into the fund. The fund shall operate as a special revenue fund whereby all deposits and payments to the Math and Science Teacher Loan Assistance Fund do not expire to the General Revenue Fund but shall remain in the fund and be available for expenditure in succeeding fiscal years. Expenditures from the fund shall be for the purposes set forth in this article, are authorized from collections and shall not revert to the General Fund. Any moneys repaid to the Department of Education by reason of default of a loan assistance agreement under this article shall also be deposited in the Math and Science Teacher Loan Assistance Fund. Balances in the Math and Science Teacher Loan Assistance Fund shall be invested with the state's consolidated investment fund, and any and all interest earnings on these investments shall be used solely for the purposes that moneys deposited in the fund may be used pursuant to this article.
(c) The Department of Education shall, in consultation with the State Superintendent of Schools, promulgate rules in accordance with the provisions of article three-b, chapter twenty-nine-a of this code, for the administration of the Math and Science Teacher Loan Assistance Program by the Department of Education in furtherance of the purposes of this article, to include, but not be limited to, criteria and procedures for identifying schools or geographic areas in critical need of math and science teachers, awarding loan assistance, loan assistance renewal, compliance, noncompliance, repayment, deferral and excusal and procedures to ensure that loan assistance funds reach the proper lending entity, and development of model loan assistance agreements. In accordance with such rules, the Department of Education shall establish appropriate guidelines for program operation. All rules so promulgated shall be filed with the Secretary of State.
(d) The Department of Education may accept and deposit into the Math and Science Teacher Loan Assistance Fund any gift, grant, contribution, bequest, endowment or other money designated to be used for the purposes of this article and may be expended as provided in this article.
(e) The Department of Education shall encourage support for the loan assistance program from private sources and may set aside no more than half of the funds appropriated by the Legislature for the loan assistance program to be used to match two state dollars to each private dollar from a nonstate source contributed to further the purposes of this article to be deposited into the Math and Science Teacher Loan Assistance Fund.
§18C-8-2. Selection criteria and procedures.
(a) Eligibility for a math and science teacher loan assistance award shall be limited to West Virginia certified teachers who:
(1) Have earned a teaching degree in math or science and are certified to teach math and science in West Virginia. Certified math and science teachers who are enrolled in advanced degree courses or who have earned advanced degrees may apply for the loan assistance award to apply toward current or future education loans;
(2) Have agreed to teach, or currently teach, math or science in geographic areas of the state identified as areas of critical need of math and science teachers.
(b) In accordance with the rules promulgated according to this article, the Department of Education shall develop criteria and procedures consistent with the rule for the administration of the loan assistance program which shall include, but not be limited to, ensuring that loan assistance awards are given only on the condition that the loan assistance recipient adheres to an agreement to teach math or science in the identified school or geographic area.
(c) The Department of Education shall make application forms for math and science teacher loan assistance awards available to public and private schools in the state, via the Department of Education’s website, and in other locations convenient to potential applicants.
§18C-8-3. Loan assistance agreement.
(a) Each recipient of a math and science teacher loan assistance award shall enter into a loan assistance agreement with the Department of Education under which the recipient shall before receiving any award:
(1) Provide the Department of Education with evidence of compliance with subsection (a), section four of this article;
(2) Teach math or science full-time under contract with a county board of education in a public education program in the state for a period of one school year for each year for which loan assistance under this article was received in a school or geographic area identified by the board of education as one with a critical need or shortage for math or science teachers;
(3) Acknowledge that any loan assistance award is to be paid to the recipient’s educational loan institution only after the Department of Education determines that the recipient has completed all terms of the agreement;
(4) Acknowledge that any loan assistance award received is to be paid to the recipient’s educational loan institution and not directly to the recipient; and
(5) Repay all or part of a teacher loan assistance award received under this article if the loan assistance award has not been paid to the educational loan institution or the recipient does not comply with the other terms of the loan assistance agreement.
(b) Loan assistance agreements shall fully disclose the terms and conditions under which assistance under this article is provided and under which repayment may be required and shall include the conditions and procedures to be established under section four of this article.
§18C-8-4. Renewal conditions; noncompliance; deferral; excusal.
(a) The recipient of a math and science teacher loan assistance award is eligible for renewal only during such periods that the recipient is: (1) Under contract with a county board of education to teach math or science at a school or geographic area identified as one with a critical need for math and science teachers and complying with such other standards as the Department of Education may establish by rule.
(b) A recipient shall not be considered in violation of the agreement entered into under section three of this article during any period in which the recipient is: (1) Serving, not in excess of four years, as a member of the armed services of the United States; or (2) Unable to fulfill the contract to teach math or science due to death, permanent or temporary disability or a condition covered under the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993.
§18C-8-5. Amount and duration of loan assistance.
Each recipient of a math and science teacher loan assistance award is eligible to receive assistance of up to $2,000 for each full school year of teaching math or science pursuant to a contract in a school or geographic area identified as one with a critical need for math and science teachers and otherwise comply with the agreement, provisions of this article and any rules promulgated pursuant thereto. Notwithstanding any other provision in this article, partial loan assistance awards may be granted to math and science teachers whose contract term is for less than a full school year with approval of the Department of Education. No individual may receive loan assistance under this article which accumulates in excess of $10,000.
NOTE: The purpose of this bill is to provide loan assistance for math and science teachers who agree to teach in areas and schools in critical need of such teachers.
§18C-8-1, §18C-8-2, §18C-8-3, §18C-8-4 and §18C-8-5 are new; therefore, strike-throughs and underscores have been omitted.