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Introduced Version House Bill 2836 History

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hb2836 intr
H. B. 2836


(By Mr. Speaker, (Mr. Thompson) and Delegate Armstead)

[By Request of the Executive]

[Introduced February 26, 2009; referred to the

Committee on Education.]




A BILL to amend the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, by adding thereto a new article, designated §18-5B-1, §18-5B-2, §18-5B-3, §18-5B-4, §18-5B-5, §18-5B-6, §18-5B-7, §18-5B-8 and §18-5B-9, all relating to school innovation zones; setting forth legislative findings, intent and purpose; authorizing the West Virginia Board of Education to designate school innovation zones; establishing an application and review process for innovation zone plans; requiring a system of accountability for innovation zones; requiring an annual report by the board of education; providing for the waiver of certain statutes, rules, policies and interpretations; providing for the voluntary transfer of employees; providing for teacher job postings that exceed certain qualifications and requirements; and authorizing the board of education to promulgate rules.

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 §18-5B-1, §18-5B-2, §18-5B-3, §18-5B-4, §18-5B-5, §18-5B-6, §18-5B-7, §18-5B-8 and §18-5B-9, all to read as follows:
ARTICLE 5B. SCHOOL INNOVATION ZONES ACT.
§18-5B-1. Title.

This article shall be known as the "School Innovation Zones Act."
§18-5B-2. Legislative findings and purpose.
(a)
Legislative findings. -- The Legislature finds and declares that:
(1) This state is committed to providing a thorough and efficient system of public education to West Virginia students;
(2) To that end, the Legislature, the West Virginia Board of Education and county boards of education have enacted statutes, rules and policies to ensure that West Virginia students receive a quality public school education;
(3) Although these statutes, rules and policies were enacted with the interests of students in mind, individual schools sometimes require greater flexibility to provide instruction tailored to the individual needs of their students and communities;
(4) Allowing individual schools to seek and receive waivers of certain statutes, rules and policies through the creation of school innovation zones will provide greater flexibility and will allow schools to institute creative and innovative practices that will facilitate 21
st century student achievement; and
(5) School innovation zones will provide schools, administrators and faculty members more control over important educational factors that impact student achievement, such as curriculum, personnel, organization of the school day, organization of the school year and delivery of educational services.
(b)
Intent and purpose. -- The intent and purpose of this article is to:
(1) Provide West Virginia schools, principals and teachers with greater flexibility and control to meet the needs of a diverse population of students by removing certain policy, rule and statutory constraints;
(2) Improve educational performance;
(3) Provide a testing ground for innovative educational reform programs and initiatives to be applied on an individual level;
(4) Provide information regarding the effects of specific innovations and policies on student achievement;
(5) Document educational strategies that enhance student success;
(6) Provide for more accountability for the state's public schools as measured by student achievement in state assessment programs and local assessment processes identified by the schools; and
(7) Provide for the establishment of innovation zones.
§18-5B-3. School innovation zones.
(a) The state board shall select schools to be designated as innovation zones. Schools shall be selected for designation as innovation zones in accordance with policies adopted by rule of the state board.
(b) The policies developed by the state board shall provide for an application process and standards for review of innovation zone applications.
(c) The application process developed by the board shall encompass at least the following:
(1) The manner, time and process for the submission of a school's innovation zone application;
(2) The contents of the application; and
(3) Factors to be considered by the state board when evaluating a school's application, which shall include, but are not limited to, the following factors:
(A) The level of staff commitment;
(B) Support from parents, students, the county board of education and the community; and
(C) The potential for a school to be successful as an innovation zone.
(d) The state board shall review a school's application in accordance with the standards adopted by the board and shall determine whether to designate the school as an innovation zone. The state board shall notify a school of its determination within sixty days of receipt of the school's innovation zone application.
§18-5B-4. Innovation zone plans.
(a) Each school designated as an innovation zone in accordance with this article shall develop an innovation zone plan. The plan shall be developed in accordance with policies adopted by rule of the state board.
(b) Innovation zone plans shall contain:
(A) A description of all programs, policies or initiatives the school intends to implement if the plan is approved in accordance with section five of this article;
(B) A list of all statutes, state board rules or policies, including state board and county board policies identified by the school as prohibiting or constraining the implementation of a specific plan, program, policy, initiative or innovation the school plans to adopt; and
(C) Any other information the state board requires.
(c) Each school designated as an innovation zone shall submit its innovation zone plan to school employees, a county board of education having jurisdiction over the school, the state board, and the State Superintendent of Schools in accordance with section five of this article.
§18-5B-5. Approval of innovation zone plans; waiver of statutes, policies, rules or interpretations.

(a) Each school designated as an innovation zone shall:
(1) Submit an innovation zone plan developed in accordance with section four of this article to employees of the school for review. An innovation zone plan shall be deemed approved if at least eighty percent of the school's employees vote for the plan's approval. The state board shall establish by rule a model for ascertaining the vote of school employees;
(2) Submit an innovation zone plan approved by vote of the school's employees to the county board of education for review. A county board shall approve or disapprove of the innovation zone plan within sixty days of receipt of the plan; and
(3) Submit an innovation zone plan approved by vote of the school's employees and a county board to the state board and state superintendent for review. The state board and state superintendent shall approve or disapprove of the plan within sixty days of receipt.
(b) Upon the approval of a school's innovation zone plan by the state board and state superintendent, the rules or policies listed within the plan are deemed waived.
(c) Following the approval of a school's innovation zone plan by the state board and state superintendent, a school may request a waiver of statutes or legislative rules promulgated by the state board. The school shall submit such a request, with supporting reasons, to the Legislative Oversight Committee for Educational Accountability, which the committee shall review when determining whether a recommendation should be made to the Legislature to waive a statute or rule:
Provided, That the Legislature shall not grant any waivers that seek exemption from an assessment program administered by the West Virginia Department of Education or from any provision of law or policy required by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, Public Law No. 107-110.
(d) The state board shall establish by rule a process for amending or revising an innovation zone plan:
Provided, That any amendments or revisions to an innovation zone plan shall be subject to the approval requirements of subsection (a) of this section.
§18-5B-6. Progress reviews and annual reports.
(a) At least annually, the state board or its designated committee shall review the progress of the development or implementation of a school's innovation zone plan. If, following such a review, the state board determines that a designated school has not made adequate progress toward developing or implementing its plan, the board shall submit a report to the school identifying its areas of concern. The state board or its designated committee may conduct an additional review within six months of submitting a report in accordance with this section. If, following such additional review, the state board or its designated committee determines that the school has not made adequate progress toward developing or implementing its innovation zone plan, the state board may revoke the school's designation as an innovation zone or, if the school's innovation zone plan has been approved in accordance with section five of this article, rescind its approval of the plan.
(b) The state board shall provide an annual report on innovation zones and the progress of innovation zone plans to
the Legislative Oversight Committee for Educational Accountability.
§18-5B-7. Transfer of employees.
A person employed in a school designated as an innovation zone who votes against the innovation zone plan may request a transfer to another school in the school district. The county board shall make every reasonable effort to accommodate the transfer.
§18-5B-8. Teacher vacancies in an innovation zone; job postings
exceeding certain qualifications and requirements; approval of postings.

(a) A school designated as an innovation zone whose school innovation zone plan has been approved in accordance with section five of this article may set forth a job posting for a teacher vacancy that sets forth standards or qualifications that exceed the standards and qualifications provided in section seven-a, article four, chapter eighteen-a of this code:
Provided, That teachers in the county approve the job posting by majority vote: Provided, however, That the county superintendent administers the vote and the record of the vote remains on file in the personnel office of the county board until the school is no longer designated as an innovation zone.
(b) Upon the initial approval by vote of a job posting, as described in subsection (a) of this section, future job postings by the school may set forth the same standards and qualifications listed in the approved job posting without requiring a vote of county teachers.
§18-5B-9. Rulemaking authority.
To implement the provisions of this article, the state board shall promulgate rules, including emergency rules, as provided in article three-b, chapter twenty-nine-a of this code.



NOTE: The purpose of this bill is to establish zones of educational innovation that allow school employees to collaboratively devise and implement 21st century school improvement strategies that are currently restrained and/or restricted by policies issued by the state board or the West Virginia Code.

This article is new; therefore, strike-throughs and underscoring have been omitted.
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