Educators and legislators discuss upcoming W.Va. session

Published: Jan. 30, 2021 at 5:35 PM EST
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PARKERSBURG, W.Va. (WTAP) - Wood County Board of Education members spent Saturday morning meeting with three members of the West Virginia House of Delegates, discussing the legislature’s upcoming session and education issues.

Board members Rick Olcott, Judy Johnson and Board President Justin Raber, along with Superintendent William Hosaflook met with Delegate John Kelly and newly-elected Delegates Roger Conley and Shannon Kimes.

The delegates were told the recent return to classroom learning is an improvement over a virtual learning system, in place from the start of the pandemic late last winter.

Board members say that is not what it was originally designed for.

“When you have local resources that have relationships with the students,” said Olcott, “and know the culture of the kids in that community, it’s a much better chance for success.”

But Superintendent Hosaflook says the system hasn’t been a complete failure. Students, he says, have learned to adjust.

“Everyone says our kids are falling behind in the pandemic, but they have gained skills that are not measured on the standardized tests, but will benefit them for the rest of their lives.”

One thing delegates say will be attempted in the upcoming session is an update to the sometimes-controversial charter schools plan lawmakers approved in 2019.

“There will be some recommendations to make it easier to get a charter,” Delegate Kelly said.

School officials said home schooling actually has declined during the pandemic. But Kimes says alternative forms of education are here to stay.

“People are choosing home school for a reason, whether it’s truancy or whatever. They’re saying ‘I have access to free public education, and I don’t think it’s worth it.”

Another of the new members said there has to be an incentive in place, to help recruit trained workers for future industrial expansion.

“If something like that happens,” Conley said, “Wood County is going to be woefully unprepared to provide those trades, to make those things happen.”

The 2021 regular legislative session begins February 10.

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