H. B. 4055
(By Delegates M. Poling, Perry, Shaver, Moye,
Smith, Lawrence and Paxton)
[Introduced January 13, 2012; referred to the
Committee on Education then Finance.]
A BILL to amend and reenact §18C-4-2 of the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, relating to creating a separate category within the Underwood-Smith Teacher Scholarship Program for scholarships and loan repayment assistance for teaching in high demand teaching fields; application of other provisions of article; limitations on eligibility; definitions; scholarship and grant agreements terms; application of other benefits available; application for repayment assistance; preferences for awards; residency requirements; program promotion; and providing for listings of certain job postings to be made available to recipients and appropriate job placement offices.
Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:
That §18C-4-2 of the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, be amended and reenacted to read as follows:
ARTICLE 4. UNDERWOOD-SMITH TEACHER SCHOLARSHIP PROGRAM.
§18C-4-2. Selection criteria and procedures generally; high demand teaching fields category; promotion of programs.
(a) The Governor shall designate an existing scholarship selection agency or panel to select the recipients of Underwood-Smith teacher scholarships who meet the eligibility criteria set forth in subsection (b) of this section. If no such agency or panel exists, the Governor shall appoint a scholarship selection panel for this purpose which shall consist of seven persons representative of public school administrators, teachers, including preschool teachers, and parents.
(b) Eligibility for an Underwood-Smith teacher scholarship award shall be limited to West Virginia resident students who:
(1) Have graduated or are graduating from high school and rank in the top ten percent of their graduating class or the top ten percent statewide of those West Virginia students taking the American College Test;
(2) Have a cumulative grade point average of at least three and twenty-five one hundredths on a possible scale of four after successfully completing two years of course work at an approved institution of higher education;
(3) Are public school aides or paraprofessionals as defined in section eight, article four, chapter eighteen-a of this code and who have a cumulative grade point average of at least three and twenty-five one hundredths on a possible scale of four after successfully completing two years of course work at an approved institution of higher education; or
(4) Are graduate students at the master's degree level who have graduated or are graduating in the top ten percent of their college graduating class.
© In accordance with the rules of the commission, the vice chancellor for administration shall develop criteria and procedures for the selection of scholarship recipients that reflect the purposes of this article and the areas in which particular efforts will be made in the selection of scholars as set forth in section one of this article and which also may include, but not be limited to, the grade point average of the applicant, involvement in extracurricular activities, financial need, current academic standing and an expression of interest in teaching as expressed in an essay written by the applicant. Such criteria and procedures further may require the applicant to furnish letters of recommendation from teachers and others. It is the intent of the Legislature that academic abilities be the primary criteria for selecting scholarship recipients: Provided, That the qualified applicants with the highest academic abilities who intend to pursue teaching careers in areas of critical need and shortage as determined by the State Board of Education shall be given priority.
(d) Within the Underwood-Smith teacher scholarship program, the vice chancellor for administration shall establish a separate category of scholarships and loan repayment assistance grants for teaching in high demand teaching fields in accordance with this subsection. The vice chancellor shall reserve at least twenty-five percent of the funds available for new awards each year for priority use for awards within this separate category unless a separate legislative appropriation is made for this purpose. All other provisions of this article apply to this separate category except as modified or extended by the following:
(1) The scholarships shall be limited to students, including students enrolled in an alternative preparation program approved by the State Board of Education, who are pursuing certification to teach in high demand teaching fields;
(2) The Higher Education Policy Commission and the Board of Education shall each year establish a priority listing of the high demand teaching fields applicable for new scholarship and loan repayment assistance grants awarded during that year’s award cycle. The list in effect for a recipient’s initial award applies for subsequent renewals and forgiveness or cancellation;
(3) For the purposes of this subsection, “loan repayment assistance grant” means the use of funds from this separate category to satisfy up to $5,000 per year, renewable annually, up to a maximum of $20,000, of a recipient’s outstanding federal Stafford student financial aid obligations. When making an award of a loan repayment assistance grant, the vice chancellor shall ensure that other Stafford loan repayment assistance or cancellation benefits for which the recipient is eligible have been taken first. A loan repayment assistance grant shall be payable to the loan holder;
(4) The scholarship agreement and the loan repayment assistance grant agreement shall require the recipient to teach full-time under contract with a county board of education in this state in a high demand teaching field for one year for each scholarship or loan repayment assistance award of up to $5,000 accepted or to meet the other provisions for compliance provided in this article;
(5) To qualify for loan repayment assistance, the applicant must submit an application to the vice chancellor including a copy of the applicant’s current employment contract, most recent federal Stafford loan statement, official transcript indicating education degree and graduation date, and such other information as the vice chancellor may require. For the purpose of making an initial application by a person who is a prospective graduate at the end of the current academic term and who is being employed for the next school year pending graduation and certification, the application shall include a certification by the employing county board of education on a form approved by the vice chancellor attesting that the applicant is expected to meet the qualifications by the end of the application period. A loan repayment assistance grant award may not be made to any person unless that person submits evidence of qualification prior to the close of the award cycle;
(6) Loan repayment assistance grants are restricted to recipients who have begun or will begin qualified teaching duties within one year of graduation from a teacher preparation or alternative preparation program of a regionally accredited institution of higher education in this state; who hold certification to teach in a high demand teaching field established in accordance with this subsection; and who are employed by a county board of education to teach in a high demand teaching field in the public schools of this state;
(7) Preference shall be granted for awards of loan repayment assistance grants to applicants who are employed in schools designated as low income schools for the purposes of the federal Stafford and Perkins student loan forgiveness or cancellation programs;
(8) West Virginia residency is not required at the time of initial application for a loan repayment assistance grant, but is required as a condition of receipt of an award and for any subsequent renewals. Eligibility for a loan repayment assistance grant may not include criteria except as specified in this subsection;
(9) A person may not be a recipient of both an Underwood-Smith scholarship and loan repayment assistance grant.
(d) (e) In developing the selection criteria and procedures to be used by the panel, the vice chancellor for administration shall solicit the views of public and private education agencies and institutions and other interested parties. These views: (1) Shall be solicited by means of written and published selection criteria and procedures in final form for implementation; and (2) may be solicited by means of public hearings on the present and projected teacher needs of the state or any other methods the vice chancellor for administration may determine to be appropriate to gather the information.
(e) (f) The vice chancellor for administration shall make application forms for Underwood-Smith teacher scholarships available to public and private high schools in the state and in other locations convenient to applicants, parents and others, and shall make an effort to attract students from low-income backgrounds, ethnic or racial minority students, students with disabilities, and women or minority students who show interest in pursuing teaching careers in mathematics and science and who are underrepresented in those fields.
(g) The vice chancellor shall provide information on the Underwood-Smith teacher scholarship and loan repayment assistance grant programs to county boards of education to promote the programs as a tool to assist the boards with the recruitment of new teachers, particularly in high demand teaching fields. The information shall include the annual priority listing of high demand teaching fields for which new loan repayment assistance grants will be available during the new award cycle. In addition, the State Superintendent of Schools shall provide the vice chancellor for administration with a listing on March 1st of each year the current job postings by county for all teaching positions. The job postings for which county boards of education are required to continue to post a position until it is filled with a regularly employed teacher pursuant to section three, article two, chapter eighteen-a of this code and any other applicable provisions of law shall be clearly indicated. The vice chancellor shall make the listing available to Underwood-Smith teacher scholarship and loan repayment assistance grant recipients and appropriate job placement offices to facilitate the application of graduated and prospective graduates for employment.
NOTE: The purpose of this bill is to create a separate category of the Underwood-Smith teacher scholarship program for students pursuing certification in high demand teaching fields and for assistance with federal Stafford student loan repayment for teacher education graduates who teach in high demand teaching fields in the state. The programs include students and graduates in alternative preparation programs. The bill requires the program information to be disseminated to county boards of education for use in assisting recruiting new graduates and for a listing of the job postings to be made available to recipients and appropriate job placement offices.
Strike-throughs indicate existing language that would be removed, and underscoring indicates new language that would be added.