Reviving some SB 451 initiatives

Seldom has the old lament about throwing the baby out with the bathwater been more appropriate than it is regarding West Virginia Senate Bill 451. As a result of a strike by members of public school unions, the measure was killed last week by the House of Delegates.

SB 451, originating in the state Senate, had been termed an “omnibus education bill” because it contained so many different changes in how we operate public schools. We expressed concern about it for that very reason.

What we — and many others — feared has come to pass: Its demise may take care of some controversial plans, but it also throws out a few very good initiatives.

Let us cite just two:

Counties where the gas drilling and processing boom has affected property taxes have lost some state school aid as a result. In SB 451 was a provision to restore some of that state support. In all likelihood, it would have helped school systems in Ohio, Marshall, Wetzel and Tyler counties.

Also in SB 451 was a provision to increase state aid to small school systems, those with fewer than 1,400 students. Tyler County would have benefited from that. County school Superintendent Robin Daquilante estimated the bill could have been as much as $2 million a year in additional state aid.

But those and several other important changes went on the shelf when the bill was tabled indefinitely.

Do legislative rules allow any of SB 451’s provisions to be recusitated, perhaps by being inserted into other bills as amendments? We don’t know.

But whether some of the really good, non-controversial sections of the bill can be saved is a question legislators should ask.

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