On Tuesday, Feb. 19, the House took two procedural votes. The first vote was to delay action until 4:00 on SB451. This would have allowed time for delegates to read and digest the amendment that the Senate sent to us.

By Del. Ruth Rowan
On Tuesday, Feb. 19, the House took two procedural votes. The first vote was to delay action until 4:00 on SB451. This would have allowed time for delegates to read and digest the amendment that the Senate sent to us. 
I voted for this motion so that I could analyze the changes the Senate had made. This vote failed.
 The second vote was to table the bill indefinitely. That would mean all work done on the bill—good or bad—would be over.  There was good in the bill—funding for more student support personnel, school counselors’ primary purpose to support students with academic, social and emotional needs, and $5 million for Innovation Zones. 
I voted no on this motion as it would end negotiations on all of the good stuff and put us back to square one.
If the first motion had passed—to delay till 4:00—I am confident that the House would have refused to concur with the Senate amendment as it not only added more charter schools, but it had taken away funding for Innovation Zones—money to help public schools to do creative things.  At this point the Senate amendment would have failed overwhelmingly and sent to a conference committee.
            As to Board of Education member Baniak’s comment that none of the delegates spoke with her.  Superintendent Dilly has spoken with me and we have corresponded by email of concerns in Mineral County Schools.
On Friday, Feb. 15, 2019, Superintendent Pancione and four Hampshire County Board of Education members traveled here to Charleston to meet with me personally about concerns in the Hampshire County Schools. We met at length and they even provided me with documentation of the needs. 
Had you called, I would have given you the same opportunity to voice your concerns for Mineral County Schools.
             As to Board of Education member Baniak’s statement, “I request we invite all of them to spend a day in our schools and see what we need.”  I have been in every school in Hampshire County and most of the schools in Mineral County. I have read to every student in Fort Ashby Primary School as well as every student at Hampshire County’s Head Start. I have also watched deaf children learn to sing with their hands and blind students see with their white canes. One thing all of my visits had in common was that I saw some pretty awesome students and some really outstanding teachers. 
              Some of my favorite memories in the classroom center around teaching our children why our government is so great.  Fifth grade students in Augusta learned the process when they named a bridge along Route 50—CSA General Stonewall Jackson Memorial Bridge. They debated and voted on the best name for their bridge. They learned patience as well as the process as they followed their legislation. It took us two years but now as you drive through Augusta you will see a large green sign declaring the bridge you are crossing is the CSA General Stonewall Jackson Memorial Bridge.
             Several years back the eighth grade students at Romney Middle School earned a place in West Virginia’s history books when they decided that West Virginia needed a state reptile. They wrote legislation, debated with me—and convinced me that it was the right thing to do. (It actually honors West Virginia’s veterans.)  Once again what they learned was patience and the process. The timber rattlesnake is our state reptile because of their efforts. 
A few years later the eighth grade class at Romney decided once again we needed legislation—this time for an amphibian. The northern red salamander is now our state amphibian. (It actually honors coal miners.)  What students at Romney Middle School have learned is that our process does work—even if sometimes you have to be patient.
              One of the last official duties I perform before leaving for Charleston each year is visit the eighth grade class at Frankfort Middle School. I always look forward to this event. It is such a wonderful experience seeing the light come on in the students’ eyes as they begin debating the current issues. By the time we part ways I realize that these young people know about the process.  They know that a bill must come before both Houses and agreed upon before going on to the Governor—who may or may not veto it.  What a wonderful process we enjoy as citizens in this great nation of ours!