By Beth Christian Broschart
In preparation for the 2013 legislative session, House Speaker Rick Thompson appointed nine delegates - including Del. Denise Campbell, D-43rd District - in late December to serve on a bipartisan panel that will delve into the Governor's Education Efficiency Audit.
"The education system in West Virginia is on the brink of an overhaul, and it is important that all members of the House of Delegates are up to date and knowledgeable of what the audit recommends and what is needed to improve upon our education environment here in the state," Thompson said. "As speaker of the house, I am charged with assisting each House member in making an informed decision.
"I am asking this work group to obtain as much information as possible, and ultimately become a resource for other members as the legislation resulting from the audit is considered so we can build common ground now and hit the ground running."
In choosing members for the work group, Thompson consulted with Minority Leader Tim Armstead.
"Education is key to moving our state forward and ensuring that our children can stay here and pursue their goals," Armstead said. "This session will provide us with an historic opportunity to improve education in our state, and I am confident that the members of this work group will put the needs of our children first and work toward making the changes necessary to achieve the best outcome for our students."
Campbell said she is looking forward to the challenges of being part of the panel.
"I am very honored and excited to be appointed to the education audit work group," Campbell said. "Our primary goal is to see that every West Virginia student received the best education possible and that we are able to meet the needs to provide that education."
Campbell said the group had their first meeting Wednesday in Charleston.
"We are going through the audit and making sure to talk with the different stakeholders and looking at what we can do from a legislative standpoint," Campbell said. "We hope to see what, if any, legislation we can make to help improve our education system in West Virginia."
"I have two children who have been through the school system in Randolph County," Campbell said. "I also graduated from Randolph County schools and it is a wonderful system. But measures change, and even though we hate measuring children by testing, it is the best measure we have."
Campbell said one big issue the group will try to tackle is the truancy issue in West Virginia.
"If a child is not in school, they cannot learn," Campbell said. "We want to help assure all children, including special needs and extended studies, have the opportunity for a good education."
Those appointed to the Audit Work Group along with Campbell are Del. David Perry, D-Fayette; Del. Larry Williams, D-Preston; Del. Randy Swartzmiller, D-Hancock; Del. Doug Reynolds, D-Cabell; Del. Bill Anderson, R-Wood; Del.Daryl Cowles, R-Morgan; Del. Amanda Pasdon, R-Monongalia; and Del. Eric Nelson, R-Kanawha.
Because this is a gubernatorial election year, the legislative session will begin in February, rather than January.
"I want this work group to have the time to hold discussions with every stakeholder to gain a full understanding of what changes are needed to make West Virginia's school system among the best in the country," Thompson said.