Liz McCormick Published

Lawmakers Outline Hopes for New Education Reform Legislation, Charter Schools Could Resurface

Sen. Patricia Rucker, R-Jefferson, gives her opening remarks during the 2019 Legislative Wrap Up Breakfast in Martinsburg.

A special session to address education in West Virginia is just around the corner, and lawmakers from the Eastern Panhandle are making plans to reintroduce controversial legislation next month.

Lawmakers spoke with constituents at a Legislative Wrap Up Breakfast this week in Martinsburg. The annual event is hosted by the Berkeley County Chamber of Commerce.

Lawmakers listed issues they were glad to see through the legislative process, but some also expressed disappointment in the failure to pass Senate Bill 451 – the controversial comprehensive education reform bill that died in the House of Delegates in February.

Sen. Patricia Rucker, a Republican from Jefferson County, is the Chair of Senate Education. She said education is the key to fixing the problems in West Virginia, like opioid addiction and retaining workforce.

She’s hopeful many of the components that were in Senate Bill 451 will make it into a new bill during the special session, and she expects to look at all aspects of education.

“The special session call was broad enough that we can discuss anything in education, from K-12 all the way to higher education,” she said. “And I believe that there will be some discussions involving everything.”

Rucker said she and legislative leaders aim to increase local control, give teachers a pay increase, provide more social and emotional supports in public schools, and to implement charter schools. She says charter schools will make West Virginia more competitive with surrounding states.

Lawmakers stated during the breakfast that the special session would likely take place sometime in May.