(a) The Legislature finds that many examples exist across the state of students who reside in one county, but who attend the public schools in an adjoining county.
(1) These arrangements have been accommodated by the boards of the adjoining counties and applicable statutes to serve best the interests of the students by enabling them to attend a school closer to their homes.
(2) Typically, these arrangements have evolved because school closures or construction of new schools in the student's county of residence have made a cross-county transfer to an existing school in an adjoining county a more convenient, practical and educationally sound option.
(b) The Legislature further finds that as population changes continue to occur, the boards of adjoining counties may best serve the interests of their students and families by establishing a new school in partnership to be attended by students residing in each of the counties. Particularly in the case of elementary grade level schools established in partnership between adjoining counties, the Legislature finds that each of the county boards, as well as the parents of students from each of the counties attending the school, have an interest in the operation of the school and the preparation of the students for success as they transition to the higher grade levels in the other schools of their respective home counties. Therefore, in the absence of a well defined governance structure that accommodates these interests, the purpose of this section is to provide for a joint governing partnership board pilot initiative.
(c) The pilot initiative is limited to the joint establishment by two adjoining counties of a school including elementary grade levels for which a memorandum of understanding on the governance and operation of the school has been signed. The pilot initiative is subject to amendment of the agreement as may be necessary to incorporate at least the following features of a joint governing partnership board:
(1) The joint governing partnership board is comprised of the county superintendent of each county, the president of the county board of each county or his or her designee, and a designee of the state superintendent;
(2) The board shall elect a chair from among its membership for a two-year term and may meet monthly or at the call of the chair.
(A) Meetings of the board are subject to the open governmental proceedings laws applicable to county boards.
(B) The boards of the respective counties are responsible for the expenses of its members and shall apportion other operational expenses of the board upon mutual agreement.
(C) Once the jointly established school is opened, the meetings of the board shall be held at the school.
(3) All provisions of law applicable to the establishment, operation and management of an inter-county school including, but not limited to, section eleven, article five and section fourteen, article nine-a of this chapter and article eight-i, article four, chapter eighteen-a of this code apply, except that the joint governing partnership board may exercise governing authority for operation and management of the school in the following areas:
(1) Notwithstanding any other laws for employment, evaluation, mentoring, professional development, suspension and dismissal of public school employees, the powers and duties of the county superintendent are vested in the joint governing partnership board with respect to the employees employed by the county in which the school is located or assigned to the school from the partner county. Pursuant to the provisions of section eight-i, article four, chapter eighteen-a of this code, employees who are hired by the county board of the receiving county shall accrue seniority in both the sending and receiving counties during the time in which they continue to be employed at the jointly established school. Upon losing a position at the jointly established school due to reduction in force or involuntary transfer, an employee shall displace a less senior employee in the county of employment which immediately preceded employment at the jointly established school. Once an employee from the sending county voluntarily transfers or resigns from a position at the jointly established school and is no longer employed in the receiving county, the employee's seniority and any other statutory rights in the receiving county cease.
(2) When initially filling service and professional employee positions at the jointly established school, the counties shall follow the procedures established in section eight-i, article four, chapter eighteen-a of this code. For the initial school year of the jointly established school's opening only, the receiving county may not fill any vacancies created by the retirement or voluntary transfer of employees of the receiving county school from February 1 of the school year immediately preceding the opening of the school until January 1 following the opening of the jointly established school until the receiving county has received the list of employees created pursuant to the provisions of subsection (c), section eight-i, article four, chapter eighteen-a of this code. The receiving county may not fill any of the vacancies referenced in this subsection until the vacancies have been offered to qualified individuals from the certified list.
(3) The employees of the jointly established school are the employees of the employing county board and the partnership board may make recommendations concerning these employment matters to the employing board it considers necessary and appropriate.
(1) The joint governing partnership board is responsible for the formulation and execution of the school's strategic improvement plan and technology plan to meet the goals for student and school performance and progress.
(2) In its formulation of these plans, the partnership board shall consider the curriculum and plans of the respective county boards to ensure preparation of the students at the school for their successful transition into the higher grade level schools of the respective counties;
(C) Finances. The joint governing partnership board shall control and may approve the expenditure of all funds allocated to the school for the school budget from either county and may solicit and receive donations, apply for and receive grants and conduct fund raisers to supplement the budget; and
(D) Facilities. Consistent with the policies in effect concerning liability insurance coverage, maintenance and appropriate uses of school facilities for the schools of the county in which the school is located, the joint governing partnership board governs the use of the school facility and ensures equitable opportunities for access and use by organizations and groups from both counties.
(d) The joint governing partnership board may adopt policies for the school that are separate from the policies of the respective counties and, working in concert with its local school improvement council, may propose alternatives to the operation of the school which require the request of a waiver of policy, interpretation or statute from either or both county boards, the state board or the Legislature as appropriate.
(e) The superintendents and presidents of county boards of adjoining counties that have in effect on the effective date of this section a memorandum of understanding on the governance and operation of a jointly established school shall report to the Legislative Oversight Commission on Education Accountability on or before November 1, 2013, on the status of implementation of this section.
(1) Once established, the joint governing partnership board established under this pilot initiative shall remain in effect for five consecutive school years unless authority for the pilot initiative is repealed.
(2) The Legislative Oversight Commission on Education Accountability may request the superintendents and the presidents of the county boards to provide periodic updates on this pilot initiative. Also, at the conclusion of the five-year pilot initiative, they shall report their recommendations on the viability of the joint governing partnership board approach and any recommended changes to the Legislative Oversight Commission on Education Accountability.
(A) When the five-year period is concluded, by affirmative vote of both boards, the joint governing partnership board shall remain in effect; or
(B) The agreement between the boards for the governance and operation of the school shall revert to the terms in effect on the effective date of this section, subject to amendment by agreement of the boards.
Note: WV Code updated with legislation passed through the 2015 Regular Session
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