Patricia Rucker


PO Box 507
Harpers Ferry, WV 25425



Legislative Address:
State Capitol, Room W-223
1900 Kanawha Blvd., East
Charleston, WV 25305-0800

Highlights of HB 206 – the Landmark Education Reform Legislation

House Bill 206

This legislation is one of the most significant investments in public education in our state’s history. It represents an investment of more than $177 million in our state’s public education system.  It provides for higher salaries for teachers and service personnel, additional counselors and student support staff, increased funding for counties with smaller populations, salary incentives for math and special education teachers and an expansion of the Mountaineer Challenge Academy.

With regard to Salaries, Incentives and Support, HB 206….

  • Delivers on the promise of providing an across the board average 5-percent pay increase for teachers and service personnel for the second year in a row. ($2,120 for teachers, $1,150 for service workers – a total pay increase of $65.4 million.)
  • Provides a three-step salary increase for math and special education teachers by allowing for three additional years of experience for the purposes of the salary schedule. A total increase of $7.8 million in salaries for those teachers.
  • Creates the Underwood-Smith Teaching Scholars Program for the purpose of awarding scholarships to individuals who agree to teach in a critical teacher shortage field for at least five consecutive years for the four academic years in which the scholarship was received. It increases the amount of the award from up to $5,000 per year to up to $10,000.
  • Changes the name of the Underwood-Smith Teacher Assistance Loan Program to the Teacher Education Loan Repayment Program. To be eligible for a loan repayment award: 1. An applicant must agree to be employed full time under contract with a county board for two school years as a teacher in a critical teacher shortage field, or 2. As a school counselor in a school or geographic area of critical need for such field for each year for which a loan repayment assistance award is received.
  • Provides an additional $200 for teachers and professional support personnel to purchase supplies.
  • Allows counties to provide additional compensation for 1. Teachers fully certified and assigned in critical need and shortage areas, remote geographical areas or with high turnover rates, and 2. Teachers who in addition to teaching serve as master teachers, mentors or academic coaches to assist others to improve their professional practice.
  • Requires that a teacher’s recommendation be the primary consideration for a student’s promotion to the next grade level. 

With Regard to Student Support Services HB 206…….

  • Provides $30.5 million in additional funding for student support services. It adds social workers and psychologists defined as “professional student support personnel” to provide direct social and emotional support services to students, as well as staff to address chronic absenteeism. Each county will receive funds for 5 support personnel per 1,000 students.  It also increases the amount of work time counselors must spend directly working with students from 75 to 80 percent.  These services may be provided through public-private partnership or contract.
  • Requires that after both 3 and 5 unexcused absences the attendance director, assistant, or principal make meaningful contact with the parent or guardian of the student to ascertain the reasons for the unexcused absences and what measures the school may employ to assist the student in attending and not incurring any additional unexcused absences (as opposed to written notice).

With regard to Open Enrollment HB 206……

  • Creates an open enrollment policy, removing existing provisions relating to transfers between counties and transfers between high schools. It requires a county board to establish and implement this policy without charging tuition and without obtaining approval from the board of the county in which a student resides.
  • Requires the Department of Education to survey districts to determine those grade levels, content areas, and geographic locations where class overcrowding is impeding student achievement and report to the Legislature by July 1, 2020 a tailored plan for reducing class overcrowding in such areas.

With Regard to Funding HB 206……

  • Reduces the percentage of the levy rate for county boards of education used to calculate local share from 90 to 85 percent, increasing overall state funding by $17.7 million.  It also increases Step 6a funding by $1.7 million by increasing the percentage of each county’s allowance for current expenses from 70.25% to 71.25% of the county’s state average costs per square footage per student for operations and maintenance amount.
  • Assists counties with net enrollment below 1,400 by increasing the adjusted net enrollment used to calculate those counties’ basic foundation program under existing code by 10 percent. This means that 11 low-population counties – Pocahontas, Pendleton, Tucker, Gilmer, Webster, Richie, Calhoun, Tyler, Wirt, Pleasants and Doddridge counties – will instantly see a total increase of $5.3 million in funding to help cover the fixed costs of operating their school systems.
  • Requires that each county board receive its allocated state aid share of the county’s basic foundation program in the form of block grants.
  • Eliminates equity pay by removing the prohibition on the pay differential between similar teachers from being greater than a 10 percent difference in salary provisions of the equity formula.

With Regard to Local Control and Support HB 206……

  • Strengthens and expands Local School Improvement Councils. It requires that they conduct at least one meeting annually to engage parents, students, school employees, business partners and other interested parties in a dialogue regard the school’s academic performance and standing and issues that affect it. It clarifies the process for Local School Improvement Councils to propose alternatives to the operation of the school and to request waivers, if needed, to county and State Board rules and policies, state superintendent interpretations and state statutes.
  • Requires the State Board to implement the Mountain State Digital Literacy Project, a pilot project in which participating schools are provided with instructional resources that feature an extensive curriculum related to digital literacy and internet safety.  Additionally, administrators and teachers are provided access to online digital literacy related professional development and support.
  • Requires reductions be based upon seniority, certification, licensure and performance evaluations when a reduction-in-force is necessary. It also allows county boards to lay off a classroom teacher with two previous consecutive years of unsatisfactory evaluations instead of less senior classroom teachers with satisfactory performance evaluations.
  • Allows each county board to establish by policy an exceptional needs fund from surpluses for students who are likely to perform better outside of the public schools setting; it sets forth the provisions that the policy may include.

Regarding the Mountaineer Challenge Academy HB 206……

  • Requires the Governor, subject to the agreement entered into between the U.S. Secretary of Defense and the Governor pursuant to federal law, to expand the Mountaineer Challenge Academy, including a second location at the former WVU-Tech campus in Fayette County.  Further, to the extent necessary to accomplish the expansion and maximize use of federal funds, pursue an amendment to the agreement between the U.S. Secretary of Defense and the Governor.

With Regard to Charter Schools:

  • HB 206 provides for the creation of three new charter schools in West Virginia, that are to be approved by the local county school board. After July 1, 2023, and every three years after, the number of charter schools may increase by three additional schools. The state school board will report on the status of public charter schools to the Legislative Oversight Commission on Education Accountability (LOCEA) every three years, making any findings or recommendations on policy changes. LOCEA will then make a report with recommendations, if any, to the Legislature during its next Regular Session.

HB 206 Provides for a Tax free weekend:

  • Beginning in 2021, the Friday-Monday weekend containing the first Sunday in August is designated a sales tax holiday for select clothing, supplies and instructional materials used for the upcoming school year.