CHARLESTON – In preparation for the 2013 legislative session, House Speaker Rick Thompson has appointed nine delegates to serve on a bipartisan panel that will delve into the Governor’s Education Efficiency Audit.
“The education system in West Virginia is on the brink of an overhaul, and it is important that all members of the House of Delegates are up to date and knowledgeable of what the audit recommends and what is needed to improve upon our education environment here in the state,” Speaker Thompson said. “As Speaker of the House, I am charged with assisting each House member in making an informed decision.
“I am asking this work group to obtain as much information as possible, and ultimately become a resource for other members as the legislation resulting from the audit is considered so we can build common ground now and hit the ground running.”
In choosing members for the work group, the Speaker consulted with Minority Leader Tim Armstead.
“Education is key to moving our state forward and ensuring that our children can stay here and pursue their goals,” the Minority Leader said. “This session will provide us with an historic opportunity to improve education in our state, and I am confident that the members of this work group will put the needs of our children first and work toward making the changes necessary to achieve the best outcome for our students.”
Thompson appointed the following delegates to the work group:
Delegate David Perry, D-Fayette
“Among countless education bills Delegate Perry has sponsored are two the Legislature adopted this year intended to adjust strict teaching certification regulations to provide for alternative on-the-job training,” Speaker Thompson said. “A veteran educator with 32 years of experience as a principal, he understands the need to attract and retain highly qualified teachers.”
Delegate Larry Williams, D-Preston
“Delegate Williams has years of experience working on education-related legislation, as both a former vice chairman and longstanding member of the House Education Committee,” Speaker Thompson said. “Before he became a legislator, he also served as the President of the Preston County School Board, so he understands the issues at both the state and local levels.”
Delegate Randy Swartzmiller, D-Hancock
“Delegate Swartzmiller has shown an intense interest in his local school system, participating in many school activities, including advocating for a local bond levy, as his two children have moved through the public school system,” the Speaker said. “In addition, his district is in a border area where school systems struggle to keep teachers from taking jobs in Pennsylvania and Ohio, so he is well versed in the issues our state faces.”
Delegate Doug Reynolds, D-Cabell
“Delegate Reynolds, who has two children in public school, has publicly called for a more thorough examination of what the education audit findings really mean, and is eager to break down all the confusing facts and figures to determine what they truly mean in terms of student and school achievement,” Thompson said. “He is a savvy businessman who cares deeply about improving our educational system, and ultimately our state’s economy as a result.”
Delegate Denise Campbell, D-Randolph
“As the mother of a child with special needs, Delegate Campbell brings a unique and broad perspective on what is needed in our public school system,” the Speaker said. “She also is a nurse and a nursing home administrator who understands the relationship between our state laws and regulations and the operations of an institution at the local level.”
Delegate Bill Anderson, R-Wood
“Delegate Anderson has spent his entire career educating children, and has 20 years of experience as a legislator,” Thompson noted. “He has been vocal about past education reform efforts, and I know he will dedicate a great deal of time and effort to this project.”
Delegate Daryl Cowles, R-Morgan
“A businessman from the Eastern Panhandle who received his bachelor’s degree from Valley College of Technology in Beckley, Delegate Cowles has an understanding of the employment needs of businesses and an appreciation for how our school system must adjust to the changing job market,” the Speaker said. “As a member of the Finance Committee, he also has a strong grasp of the complexities of our school funding formula.”
Delegate Amanda Pasdon, R-Monongalia
“Delegate Pasdon is a dedicated member of the House Education Committee, so I am confident she has the knowledge and the interest to really dig deep into the fine points of the audit,” the Speaker said. “In addition, outside the Legislature, she is the Business Development Director for the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce, an organization that has taken great interest in education reform.”
Delegate Eric Nelson, R-Kanawha
“As a businessman who has vast experience dealing with large West Virginia companies, Delegate Nelson has a keen understanding of the state’s job market and the effect the quality of our educational system has on the economy,” Thompson said. “He also is a long-time coach who appreciates how valuable our teachers are and the need to properly train and retain them.”
Because this is a gubernatorial election year, the legislative session will begin in February, rather than January.
“I want this work group to have the time to hold discussions with every stakeholder to gain a full understanding of what changes are needed to make West Virginia's school system among the best in the country,” Speaker Thompson said.