Sunday’s interim legislative meetings included several updates on the state’s schools and educational programs.
Cynthia Persily, vice chancellor for health sciences with the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission presented the Health Sciences and Rural Health Report Card.
Persily told the Legislative Oversight Committee on Educational Accountability that the state’s three state funded medical schools enroll more medical students per capita than any other state in the country, but most of them don’t stay in state
Despite the high enrollment, Persily says only 1 in 5 medical school graduates educated in the state end up practicing here due to a high debt load and lower reimbursement rates and salaries for physicians compared to other states.
“What we’ve seen is a steady decline in the number of students choosing to practice in West Virginia,” she said. “But I’m pleased to say that we at least leveled off from last year at 20 percent of our graduates from the classes of 2012 to 2017, who are practicing in West Virginia. We hope to start to see these rates incline.”
Persily says doctors are more likely to practice close to where they completed their residency, and state officials are trying to improve retention of medical school graduates with improved incentives.
Later in the meeting, State Deputy Superintendent Michele Blatt presented a report on the state’s new public charter schools.
Established in 2021 by House Bill 2012, West Virginia’s first four charter schools opened this past fall.
Blatt says the Department of Education has worked to support the new schools, which all constitute their own local education agency.
“So if they want to work with a local county to provide transportation or child nutrition, then they have to pay for those services to the county because they’re separate from that,” Blatt said. “But we’ve worked through Jefferson County and Mon county to make sure that everything is working together the way that it should.”
There are currently brick and mortar charter schools in Morgantown and Kearneysville, as well as two virtual charter schools, with a third brick and mortar charter set to open next fall.
Blatt also presented brief reports on the regulations for the education of students with exceptionalities, the Feed to Achieve program and class sizes.