Gov. Jim Justice held a signing ceremony today for four education-related bills passed by the West Virginia Legislature. The ceremony took place in front of a packed gym full of students at Leon Elementary School.
“For our students to succeed, they have to feel safe and loved,” Gov. Justice said. “This legislation further improves our students’ safety and will help raise our literacy and numeracy numbers by putting more aides in classrooms. For our older students, we’re making it easier to get them college ready by removing barriers for advanced education. Education is our centerpiece in West Virginia, and these bills make that focus even clearer. Today is a great day for West Virginia.”
The first, HB 3369, expands the jurisdiction of the School Safety Unit of the Division of Protective Services, allowing them to provide safety services to all schools, whether public or private, and to inspect schools and provide recommendations on safety and compliance throughout the entire state.
Additionally, the bill extends the authority of officers assigned to the School Safety Unit of the Capitol Police, permitting officers to respond to and investigate matters related to school safety across the entire state.
The second bill, SB 422, requires public schools to publish their current classroom curriculum online at the beginning of each school year, or within 30 days of updating or adopting it. The goal of this bill is to make curriculum requirements more transparent.
The State Board of Education may also provide access to the county-adopted classroom curriculum. If a public school doesn’t have a website, the information will be posted on the county board of education’s website instead.
The third, HB 3035, establishes the Third Grade Success Act to support early literacy and numeracy for students kindergarten through third grade. It also requires the State Board of Education to develop benchmarks for language arts and mathematics for those same students. Furthermore, counties will be allowed to employ more early childhood classroom assistant teachers.
Finally, HB 2005, establishes a pilot program that will cover the costs of dual enrollment courses offered by the state’s colleges and universities that are tied to some of West Virginia’s most in-demand careers. State-funded dual enrollment will begin as a four-year pilot program, supporting up to an estimated 10,000 students per year.
West Virginia’s public community and technical colleges and four-year institutions will offer courses in certain designated career pathways, such as health care, information technology, advanced manufacturing, construction, engineering, education, agriculture, and any other program that meets a workforce need in the state as determined by the West Virginia Department of Commerce. The pilot program will be administered by the Higher Education Policy Commission and the Council for Community and Technical College Education in conjunction with the State Board of Education.