West Virginia House Committee Quickly Recommends Assistant Teachers Bill | News, Sports, Jobs

A bill sponsored by House Speaker Roger Hanshaw, left, to provide assistant teachers for first- and second-grade classrooms passed the House Education Committee on Wednesday. (Photo courtesy of WV Legislative Photography)

CHARLESTON — A bill championed by House Speaker Roger Hanshaw at the start of the 2022 legislative session to provide additional assistant teachers to certain elementary educators was quickly debated and passed Wednesday.

The House Education Committee recommended passage of House Bill 4467 Wednesday afternoon, requiring early childhood classroom assistant teachers at certain grades and enrollment levels. The bill now heads to the House Finance Committee.

HB 4467 would require assistant teachers in first and second grade classes with more than 12 students. State code already requires an assistant teacher in pre-kindergarten and kindergarten programs. The bill gives assistant teachers the same authority as teachers over students in a classroom.

The bill also increases the funding ratio in the school aid formula of the number of staff positions a county gets to 7.9 positions based on 1,000 students in net enrollment. A tax memo was not available for the bill Wednesday, though committee counsel estimated the cost to the state could be $68 million for the two years and $34.7 million dollars if lawmakers chose to provide only first-grade assistant teachers.

Speaking the weekend before the start of the legislative session at the West Virginia Press Association’s annual legislative review, Hanshaw, R-Clay, said adding teaching assistants would help teachers work individually with students.

“A personal priority for me this legislative session is to make sure that we help young students and our youngest children that we have in the public school system – our first and second graders,” Hanshaw said last month.

“The data shows that if a child completes third grade and cannot read at grade level, the odds that that student has ever read at grade level in their lifetime is in the single digits.

“It’s sad, because this legislature and the people of West Virginia have invested heavily in public education over the past few years,” Hanshaw continued. “We have largely focused these efforts on our secondary schools from grades 9 to 12… One of the things that we can perhaps do better is to ensure that at the other end of this continuum, because students are just getting into public schools. , that we are preparing them as best we can to reap the benefits of the other investments we have made.

The bill was recommended by the committee by voice vote. Minority Vice Chairman of the House Education Committee Cody Thompson, D-Randolph, voiced support for the bill on Wednesday. A classroom teacher, Thompson said the bill would provide much-needed support to early childhood education teachers.

“It’s a very good bill” said Thompson. “I think it’s something that’s going to have a very lasting impact, because those young ages – those young years when you’re in primary school – are where you build your foundation for education. Having an extra pair of hands and an extra pair of eyes will ensure our little ones get the best education possible.

Steven Allen Adams can be contacted at sadams@newsandsentinel.com

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