Justice Signs Sweeping Education Bill

Jun 29, 2019

West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice signed an omnibus education reform bill] on Friday, June 28, that will lead to the state’s first charter schools.

House Bill 206 allows for three charter schools in the 2021-2022 academic year, with approval from the charters’ respective county boards of education. The bill allows for three more charters every three years, beginning in 2023.

The legislation also entails a 5 percent raise for public school employees. A bulletin on Friday from the Senate Finance Committee said most of that roughly $67 million increase has been set aside in the budget for Fiscal Year 2020. 

Education reform has been at the crux of the state’s most recent regular session and a special session called by Justice in March, after the original omnibus measure from the Senate failed.

Teachers and service personnel from schools statewide have gathered at the Capitol on several occasions this year to protest charters and other aspects of the omnibus bills they disagreed with, including education savings accounts and anti-strike language that would penalize public school workers for protesting. 

Justice didn’t hold any public bill-signing events Friday, issuing a press release instead. 

“Looking at the bill in its entirety – with all of its many, many great pieces that help our children and our teachers – there is truly so much good that will benefit teachers, students, and all West Virginians,” Justice said in Friday’s statement. “I am really pleased with where we got to at the end of the day and I commend the Senate and the House for working with me to come to a compromise that will result in a big win for the entire education community and all West Virginians.”

HB 206 passed the Senate 18-16 on Monday and the House 51-47 on June 19.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.