Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

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WV State News

March 18, 2013

W.Va. Senate passes amended education bill


"We've made a lot of progress, and we do have a bill that I feel very strongly ... does what we needed to do to move this state forward," Senate Education Chair Robert Plymale, D-Wayne, told colleagues before Monday's vote.

The bill also reflects Tomblin's goals of ensuring that every 3rd-grader ends that year reading at grade level, and that high school students enter their senior year ready for college or career training. It offers loan forgiveness to teachers assigned to subjects or parts of the state with critical shortages. It would pay the $1,150 renewal fee for teachers with vaunted national certification.

The Senate also kept Tomblin's proposed rewrite of the school accreditation process, and his call for public meetings before county boards draw up a new school calendar. Its passage of the bill followed talks with House lawmakers and groups representing teachers. Those organizations applauded Monday's changes, as did Tomblin.

"I'm pleased all of my goals remain intact and I look forward to working with members of the House and stakeholders in the coming days," the governor said in a statement.

House Speaker Rick Thompson assigned the bill to a single committee, House Education, for review. With the session ending April 13, Thompson pledged quick House action. The Wayne County Democrat praised Plymale, House Education Chair Mary Polling and others for Monday's changes.

"My understanding is, this is a consensus bill," Thompson said. "There are a lot of good things for education."

House Democrats and Republicans expect to discuss the bill Wednesday when they hold separate closed-door caucus meetings. The November election gave the GOP 46 of 100 seats in the House, and Minority Leader Tim Armstead said delegates should be given time to touch base with constituents about the amended bill.

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