Education policies have been another big topic of discussion this year. In higher education, the WV Invest scholarship program has been updated in Senate Bill 335 to make it clear that the grant covers tuition, compulsory fees, and academic program fees, which now include labor equipment costs. The drug testing requirement was also changed to be annual unless there is a positive result. As a reminder, the WV Invest grant is a state-funded grant program that pays the full cost of basic tuition fees and compulsory fees for select certificate and associate programs at Two or four year public institution in West Virginia. Priority is given to programs in high demand fields. This is a last dollar program, which means it will pay for any amount up to the full cost of tuition and compulsory fees not already covered by other state grants or scholarships. or federal and institutional tuition waivers. To apply, go to www.wvinvests.org.
Senate Bill 307 allows non-resident members of a WV reserve unit and any member of the United States Armed Forces who reside here to qualify for tuition.
2001 Bill creates the WV Jumpstart savings program to allow families, individuals or employers to contribute non-taxable dollars to the account for use in the exercise of a trade or profession related to the trades. Funds saved can be used for tools, equipment or supplies, community and technical college apprenticeship programs and associate’s degrees, and to start a business.
In K-12 education, House Bill 2012 expanded the concept of a public charter school and included two virtual charter schools. With the pandemic, educational options for parents have become a priority and a reality. House Bill 2013 creates the Hope Scholarship Program which is an education savings account that equates to approximately $ 4,600 in public funding per year. The funds will be managed by the WV Treasurer’s office and can only be used by approved vendors to reduce fraudulent spending. The program will go into effect on July 1, 2022, and applications will open on March 1, 2022 for children currently enrolled in the WV public school system or entering kindergarten. The funds can be used for educational options other than traditional public school. Federal and county government education funding will always go to the local public school system, even if the child does not attend that school system. Interim education studies will continue to look for ways to improve our local school systems. One suggestion I made was that the committee put in place a way to get input from teachers and other stakeholders in the system instead of relying on teachers’ unions. Although they have offered their contribution in the past, this usually relates to pay and benefits and not something to be changed in the education section of the state code. Other education systems can sometimes be successful because of the flexibility they have to easily change when something goes wrong and not be limited to so many statuses. We need our educators to have more freedom to teach as needed for the students they have every class and every semester, and not be stuck in certain methods. Over the next nine months, I hope we will be able to develop some good ideas for changing the current system and not have to expand the creation of other systems. Let’s make our current system better for everyone.
Delegate Amy Summers (for Mr. Litzinger: Christian, wife, mother, nurse and parliamentary majority leader working for you), cell 304-641-1159, [email protected], 98 Meadland Road, Flemington, WV 26347