H. B. 4470
(By Delegates Walker, Williams, Barill, Pethtel,
Brown and Rowan)
[Introduced February 9, 2012; referred to the
Committee on Education then Finance.]
A BILL to amend and reenact §18-2-26 of the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended; and to amend and reenact §18-5-13 of said code, all relating to the State Board of Education; multicounty regional educational service agencies and providing that it is not intended to authorize these agencies to provide services that would displace positions and duties performed by the county board of education professional or service employees; county board of education authority generally; providing that county boards of education may not be required to utilize regional services; and authorizing the employment of certified bus trainers to train prospective candidates for school bus operator certification.
Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:
That §18-2-26 of the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, be amended and reenacted; and that §18-5-13 of said code be amended and reenacted, all to read as follows:
ARTICLE 2. STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION.
§18-2-26. Establishment of multicounty regional educational service agencies; purpose; authority of state board; governance; annual performance standards.
(a) Legislative intent. -- The intent of the Legislature in providing for establishment of regional education service agencies, hereinafter referred to in this section as agency or agencies, is to provide for high quality, cost effective education programs and services to students, schools and school systems.
Since the first enactment of this section in 1972, the focus of public education has shifted from a reliance on input models to determine if education programs and services are providing to students a thorough and efficient education to a performance based accountability model which relies on the following:
(1) Development and implementation of standards which set forth the things that students should know and be able to do as the result of a thorough and efficient education including measurable criteria to evaluate student performance and progress;
(2) Development and implementation of assessments to measure student performance and progress toward meeting the standards;
(3) Development and implementation of a system for holding schools and school systems accountable for student performance and progress toward obtaining a high quality education which is delivered in an efficient manner; and
(4) Development and implementation of a method for building the capacity and improving the efficiency of schools and school systems to improve student performance and progress.
(b) Purpose. -- In establishing the agencies the Legislature envisions certain areas of service in which the agencies can best assist the state board in implementing the standards based accountability model pursuant to subsection (a) of this section and, thereby, in providing high quality education programs. It is not the intent of this section to authorize these agencies to provide services that would displace positions and duties performed by county board of education professional or service employees as defined in section one, article one, chapter eighteen-a of this code and this practice is prohibited. These The areas of service that these agencies may provide service include the following:
(1) Providing technical assistance to low performing schools and school systems;
(2) Providing high quality, targeted staff development designed to enhance the performance and progress of students in state public education;
(3) Facilitating coordination and cooperation among the county boards within their respective regions in such areas as cooperative purchasing; sharing of specialized personnel, communications and technology; curriculum development; and operation of specialized programs for exceptional children;
(4) Installing, maintaining and/or repairing education related technology equipment and software with special attention to the state level basic skills and SUCCESS programs;
(5) Receiving and administering grants under the provisions of federal and/or state law; and
(6) Developing and/or implementing any other programs or services as directed by law or by the state board.
(c) State board rule. -- The state board shall reexamine the powers and duties of the agencies in light of the changes in state level education policy that have occurred and shall establish multicounty regional educational service agencies by rule, promulgated in accordance with the provisions of article three-b, chapter twenty-nine-a of this code.
The rule shall contain all information necessary for the effective administration and operation of the agencies. In developing the rule, the state board may not delegate its constitutional authority for the general supervision of schools to the agencies, however, it may allow the agencies greater latitude in the development and implementation of programs in the service areas outlined in subsection (b) of this section with the exceptions of providing technical assistance to low performing schools and school systems and providing high quality, targeted staff development designed to enhance the performance and progress of students in state public education. These two areas constitute the most important responsibilities for the agencies.
The rule establishing the agencies shall be promulgated before November 1, 2002, and shall be consistent with the provisions of this section. It shall include, but is not limited to, the following procedures:
(1) Providing for a uniform governance structure for the agencies containing at least these elements:
(A) Selection by the state board of an executive director who shall be responsible for the administration of his or her respective agency. The rule shall provide for the state board to consult with the appropriate regional council during the selection process;
(B) Development of a job description and qualifications for the position of executive director, together with procedures for informing the public of position openings and for taking and evaluating applications for these positions;
(C) Provisions for the agencies to employ other staff, as necessary, with the approval of the state board and upon the recommendation of the executive director: Provided, That prior to July 1, 2003, no person who is an employee of an agency on the effective date of this section may be terminated or have his or her salary and benefit levels reduced as the sole result of the changes made to this section or by state board rule;
(D) Appointment by the county boards of a regional council in each agency area consisting of representatives of county boards and county superintendents from within that area for the purpose of advising and assisting the executive director in carrying out his or her duties. The state board may provide for membership on the regional council for representatives from other agencies and institutions who have interest or expertise in the development or implementation of regional education programs; and
(E) Selection by the state superintendent of a representative from the State Department of Education to serve on each regional council. These representatives shall meet with their respective regional councils at least quarterly;
(2) Establishing statewide standards by the state board for service delivery by the agencies. These standards may be revised annually and shall include, but are not limited to, programs and services to fulfill the purposes set forth in subsection (b) of this section;
(3) Establishing procedures for developing and adopting an annual basic operating budget for each agency and for other budgeting and accounting procedures as the state board may require;
(4) Establishing procedures to clarifying that agencies may acquire and hold real property;
(5) Dividing the state into appropriate, contiguous geographical areas and designating an agency to serve each area. The rule shall provide that each of the state’s counties is contained within a single service area and that all counties located within the boundaries of each agency, as determined by the state board, shall be members of that agency; and
(6) Such other standards or procedures as the state board finds necessary or convenient.
(d) Regional services. -- In furtherance of the purposes provided in this section, the state board and the regional council of each agency shall continually explore possibilities for the delivery of services on a regional basis which will facilitate equality in the education offerings among counties in its service area, permit the delivery of high quality education programs at a lower per student cost, strengthen the cost effectiveness of education funding resources, reduce administrative and/or operational costs, including the consolidation of administrative, coordinating and other county level functions into region level functions, and promote the efficient administration and operation of the public school systems generally: Provided, That county boards of education may not be required to utilize these regional services.
Technical, operational, programmatic or professional services are among the types of services appropriate for delivery on a regional basis.
(e) Virtual education. -- The state board, in conjunction with the various agencies, shall develop an effective model for the regional delivery of instruction in subjects where there exists low student enrollment or a shortage of certified teachers or where the delivery method substantially improves the quality of an instructional program. The model shall incorporate an interactive electronic classroom approach to instruction. To the extent funds are appropriated or otherwise available, county boards or regional educational service agencies may adopt and utilize the model for the delivery of the instruction.
(f) Computer information system. -- Each county board of education shall use the uniform integrated regional computer information system recommended by the state board for data collection and reporting to the State Department of Education. County boards of education shall bear the cost of and fully participate in the implementation of the system by using one of the following methods:
(1) Acquiring necessary, compatible equipment to participate in the regional computer information system; or
(2) Following receipt of a waiver from the state superintendent, operating a comparable management information system at a lower cost which provides at least all uniform integrated regional computer information system software modules and allows on-line, interactive access for schools and the county board office onto the statewide communications network. All data formats shall be the same as for the uniform integrated regional information system and will reside at the regional computer.
Any county granted a waiver shall receive periodic notification of any incompatibility or deficiency in its system. No county shall expand any system either through the purchase of additional software or hardware that does not advance the goals and implementation of the uniform integrated regional computer information system as recommended by the state board.
(g) Reports and evaluations. -- Each agency shall submit to the state superintendent on such date and in such form as specified in the rules adopted by the state board a report and evaluation of the technical assistance and other services provided and utilized by the schools within each respective region and their effectiveness. Additionally, any school may submit an evaluation of the services provided by the agency to the state superintendent at any time. This report shall include an evaluation of the agency program, suggestions on methods to improve utilization and suggestions on the development of new programs and the enhancement of existing programs. The reports and evaluations submitted pursuant to this subsection shall be submitted to the state board and shall be made available upon request to the standing committees on education of the West Virginia Senate and House of Delegates and to the secretary of education and the arts.
(h) Funding sources. -- An agency may receive and disburse funds from the state and federal governments, from member counties, or from gifts and grants.
(i) Employee expenses. -- Notwithstanding any other provision of this code to the contrary, employees of agencies shall be reimbursed for travel, meals and lodging at the same rate as state employees under the travel management office of the Department of Administration.
A county board member may not be an employee of an agency.
(j) Meetings and compensation. --
(1) Agencies shall hold at least one half of their regular meetings during hours other than those of a regular school day. The executive director of each agency shall attend at least one meeting of each of the member county boards of education each year to explain the agency’s services, garner suggestions for program improvement and provide any other information as may be requested by the county board.
(2) Notwithstanding any other provision of this code to the contrary, county board members serving on regional councils may receive compensation at a rate not to exceed $100 per meeting attended, not to exceed fifteen meetings per year. County board members serving on regional councils may be reimbursed for travel at the same rate as state employees under the rules of the travel management office of the Department of Administration.
(k) Computer installation, maintenance and repair. -- Agencies shall serve as the lead agency for computer installation, maintenance and repair for the basic skills and SUCCESS computer programs. Each agency shall submit a quarterly status report on turn around time for computer installation, maintenance and repair to the State Superintendent of Schools who shall then submit a report to the Legislative Oversight Commission on Education Accountability. The status report for turn around time for computer installation, maintenance and repair shall be based on the following suggested time schedules:
Network File Servers.......................forty-eight hours
Local Area Networks........................forty-eight hours
West Virginia Education
Information System.........................twenty-four hours
Computer Workstations.....................three to five days
Printers..................................three to five days
Other Peripherals.........................three to five days
Agencies also shall submit an audit report to the Legislative Oversight Commission on Education Accountability each year.
(l) Professional development. -- Pursuant to the processes and provisions of section twenty-three-a, article two, chapter eighteen of this code, each agency shall provide coordinated professional development programs within its region to meet the professional development goals established by the state board.
ARTICLE 5. COUNTY BOARD OF EDUCATION.
§18-5-13. Authority of boards generally.
Subject to the provisions of this chapter and the rules of the state board, each county board may:
(a) Control and manage all of the schools and school interests for all school activities and upon all school property owned or leased by the county, including:
(1) Requiring schools to keep records regarding funds connected with the school or school interests, including all receipts and disbursements of all funds collected or received by:
(A) Any principal, teacher, student or other person in connection with the schools and school interests;
(B) Any program, activity or other endeavor of any nature operated or conducted by or in the name of the school; and
(C) Any organization or body directly connected with the school;
(2) Allowing schools to expend funds for student, parent, teacher and community recognition programs. A school may use only funds it generates through a fund-raising or donation-soliciting activity. Prior to commencing the activity, the school shall:
(A) Publicize the activity as intended for this purpose; and
(B) Designate for this purpose the funds generated;
(3) Auditing the records and conserving the funds, including securing surety bonds by expending board moneys. The funds described in this subsection are quasipublic funds, which means the moneys were received for the benefit of the school system as a result of curricular or noncurricular activities;
(1) Schools, from preschool through high school;
(2) Vocational schools; and
(3) Schools and programs for post-high school instruction, subject to approval of the state board;
(c) Close any school:
(1) Which is unnecessary and assign the students to other schools. The closing shall occur pursuant to official action of the county board. Except in emergency situations when the timing and manner of notification are subject to approval by the state superintendent, the county board shall notify the affected teachers and service personnel of the county board action not later than the first Monday in April. The board shall provide notice in the same manner as set forth in section four of this article; or
(2) Pursuant to the provisions of subsection (e) of this section;
(d) Consolidate schools;
(e) Close any elementary school whose average daily attendance falls below twenty students for two consecutive months. The county board may assign the students to other schools in the district or to schools in adjoining districts. If the teachers in the closed school are not transferred or reassigned to other schools, they shall receive one month's salary;
(f) Provide transportation according to rules established by the county board, as follows:
(1) To provide at public expense adequate means of transportation:
(A) For all children of school age who live more than two miles distance from school by the nearest available road;
(B) For school children participating in county board-approved curricular and extracurricular activities;
(C) Across county lines for students transferred from one district to another by mutual agreement of both county boards. The agreement shall be recorded in the meeting minutes of each participating county board and is subject to the provisions of subsection (h) of this section; and
(D) Within available revenues, for students within two miles distance of the school; and
(2) To provide transportation for participants in projects operated, financed, sponsored or approved by the Bureau of Senior Services. This transportation shall be provided at no cost to the county board. All costs and expenses incident in any way to this transportation shall be borne by the bureau or the local or county affiliate of the bureau;
(3) Any school bus owned by the county board may be operated only by a bus operator regularly employed by the county board;
(4) Pursuant to rules established by the state board, the county board may provide for professional employees to be certified to drive county board-owned vehicles that have a seating capacity of fewer than ten passengers. These employees may use the vehicles to transport students for school-sponsored activities, but may not use the vehicles to transport students between school and home. Not more than one of these vehicles may be used for any school-sponsored activity;
(5) Students may not be transported to a school-sponsored activity in any county-owned or leased vehicle that does not meet school bus or public transit ratings. This section does not prohibit a parent from transporting ten or fewer students in a privately-owned vehicle;
(6) Students may be transported to a school-sponsored activity in a vehicle that has a seating capacity of sixteen or more passengers which is not owned and operated by the county board only as follows:
(A) The state board shall promulgate a rule to establish requirements for:
(i) Automobile insurance coverage;
(ii) Vehicle safety specifications;
(iii) School bus or public transit ratings; and
(iv) Driver training, certification and criminal history record check; and
(B) The vehicle owner shall provide to the county board proof that the vehicle and driver satisfy the requirements of the state board rule; and
(7) Buses shall be used for extracurricular activities as provided in this section only when the insurance coverage required by this section is in effect;
(g) Lease school buses pursuant to rules established by the county board.
(1) Leased buses may be operated only by bus operators regularly employed by the county board.
(2) The lessee shall bear all costs and expenses incurred by, or incidental to the use of, the bus.
(3) The county board may lease buses to:
(A) Public and private nonprofit organizations and private corporations to transport school-age children for camps or educational activities;
(B) Any college, university or officially recognized campus organization for transporting students, faculty and staff to and from the college or university. Only college and university students, faculty and staff may be transported pursuant to this paragraph. The lease shall include provisions for:
(i) Compensation for bus operators;
(ii) Consideration for insurance coverage, repairs and other costs of service; and
(iii) Any rules concerning student behavior;
(C) Public and private nonprofit organizations, including education employee organizations, for transportation associated with fairs, festivals and other educational and cultural events. The county board may charge fees in addition to those charges otherwise required by this subsection;
(h) To provide at public expense for insurance coverage against negligence of the drivers of school buses, trucks or other vehicles operated by the county board. Any contractual agreement for transportation of students shall require the vehicle owner to maintain insurance coverage against negligence in an amount specified by the county board;
(i) Provide for the full cost or any portion thereof for group plan insurance benefits not provided or available under the West Virginia Public Employees Insurance Act. Any of these benefits shall be provided:
(1) Solely from county board funds; and
(2) For all regular full-time employees of the county board;
(j) Employ teacher aides; to provide in-service training for the aides pursuant to rules established by the state board; and, prior to assignment, to provide a four-clock-hour program of training for a service person assigned duties as a teacher aide in an exceptional children program. The four-clock-hour program shall consist of training in areas specifically related to the education of exceptional children;
(k) Establish and operate a self-supporting dormitory for:
(1) Students attending a high school or participating in a post high school program; and
(2) Persons employed to teach in the high school or post high school program;
(l) At the county board’s discretion, employ, contract with or otherwise engage legal counsel in lieu of using the services of the prosecuting attorney to advise, attend to, bring, prosecute or defend, as the case may be, any matters, actions, suits and proceedings in which the county board is interested;
(m) Provide appropriate uniforms for school service personnel;
(n) Provide at public expense for payment of traveling expenses incurred by any person invited to appear to be interviewed concerning possible employment by the county board, subject to rules established by the county board;
(o) Allow designated employees to use publicly provided carriage to travel from their residences to their workplace and return. The use:
(1) Is subject to the supervision of the county board; and
(2) Shall be directly connected with, required by and essential to the performance of the employee‘s duties and responsibilities;
(p) Provide at public expense adequate public liability insurance, including professional liability insurance, for county board employees;
(q) Enter into cooperative agreements with other county boards to provide improvements to the instructional needs of each district. The cooperative agreements may be used to employ specialists in a field of academic study or for support functions or services for the field. The agreements are subject to approval by the state board;
(r) Provide information about vocational and higher education opportunities to exceptional students. The county board shall provide in writing to the students and their parents or guardians information relating to programs of vocational education and to programs available at state institutions of higher education. The information may include sources of available funding, including grants, mentorships and loans for students who wish to attend classes at institutions of higher education;
(s) Enter into agreements with other county boards for the transfer and receipt of any funds determined to be fair when students are permitted or required to attend school in a district other than the district of their residence. These agreements are subject to the approval of the state board; and
(t) Enter into job-sharing arrangements, as defined in section one, article one, chapter eighteen-a of this code, with its employees, subject to the following provisions:
(1) A job-sharing arrangement shall meet all the requirements relating to posting, qualifications and seniority, as provided in article four, chapter eighteen-a of this code;
(2) Notwithstanding any contrary provision of this code or legislative rule and specifically the provisions of article sixteen, chapter five of this code, a county board that enters into a job-sharing arrangement:
(A) Shall provide insurance coverage to the one employee mutually agreed upon by the employees participating in that arrangement; and
(B) May not provide insurance benefits of any type to more than one of the job-sharing employees, including any group plan available under the state Public Employees Insurance Act;
(3) Each job-sharing agreement shall be in writing on a form prescribed and furnished by the county board. The agreement shall designate specifically one employee only who is entitled to the insurance coverage. Any employee who is not designated is not eligible for state public employees insurance coverage regardless of the number of hours he or she works;
(4) All employees involved in the job-sharing agreement shall meet the requirements of subdivision (3), section two, article sixteen, chapter five of this code; and
(5) When entering into a job-sharing agreement, the county board and the participating employees shall consider issues such as retirement benefits, termination of the job-sharing agreement and any other issue the parties consider appropriate. Any provision in the agreement relating to retirement benefits may not cause any cost to be incurred by the retirement system that is more than the cost that would be incurred if a single employee were filling the position ; and
(u) Under rules it establishes for each child, expend an amount not to exceed the proportion of all school funds of the district that each child would be entitled to receive if all the funds were distributed equally among all the children of school age in the district upon a per capita basis;and
(v) Employ certified bus trainers to train prospective candidates for school bus operator certification: Provided, That nothing contained herein may prohibit a board of education from employing a regular employee of the county board of education pursuant to an extracurricular assignment agreement to train prospective candidates for school bus operator certification.
NOTE: The purpose of this bill is to provide that it is not intended that multicounty regional educational service agencies provide services that would displace positions and duties performed by the county board of education professional or service employees. The bill provides that county boards of education may not be required to utilize regional services. The bill also authorizes the employment of certified bus trainers to train prospective candidates for school bus operator certification.
Strike-throughs indicate language that would be stricken from the present law, and underscoring indicates new language that would be added.