CHARLESTON, W.VA. – The West Virginia Board of Education (WVBE) unanimously elected Board Member L. Paul Hardesty as president today during its monthly meeting. Hardesty, a resident of Logan County, has a 30-year career of public service on both the county and state levels. Board Member Nancy White was elected vice-president.

President Hardesty was appointed to the Board in December 2021. He has served on the Logan County Board of Education and was appointed by Gov. Jim Justice to an unexpired term in the West Virginia Senate (7th District). He is a managing member of business development company PDH Business Solutions and previously held the positions of director of the Office Coalfield Development and legislative liaison for Gov. Bob Wise. Additionally, he served as the director of the Public Energy Authority and member of the legislative staff for Gov. Joe Manchin.

“I am humbled and grateful for the opportunity to continue to serve the great state of West Virginia and the children of our public school system,” said President Hardesty. “We have many important issues in front of us, and we will work tirelessly to ensure our children are prepared for the opportunities available to them. I will start, day-one, to try and build back damaged relationships around the Capitol Complex, because, at the end of the day, we all want better educational opportunities.”

President Hardesty’s complete bio is on the WVDE website.

The Board also received a school safety update from members of the West Virginia State Police on behalf of the Department of Homeland Security. Last month, the WVBE requested additional information regarding ongoing collaborative efforts on the county, state and federal levels to protect school and student safety. Through an ongoing partnership between the West Virginia Department of Education (WVDE), the Department of Homeland Security and emergency responders, trainings will be available later this summer and fall that focus on student threat assessments and active shooter responses. State police explained some of the offerings will not only be made available to school personnel and emergency responders, but also to members of the community.

“We have to address school safety from many angles,” said State Superintendent of Schools W. Clayton Burch. “From creating safe and supportive school environments and being able to quickly recognize problem areas, to the role of our emergency response partners to protect public safety, we all have a part to play. Partners have plans in place that will also assist communities in understanding their roles in protecting schools. I believe by keeping this issue in front of us, we will be able to better protect our students.”

In other action, the Board extended the Lincoln County State of Emergency for an additional six months after hearing an update from the WVDE Office of Support and Accountability. The State of Emergency was declared in November 2020. According to the recent data, improvements in curriculum and coaching, special education and personnel were reported along with county progress being made on many short-term facility needs. Additionally, the county has made advances to streamline financial practices and procedures to increase efficiency and reduce unnecessary expenditures.

The Board included additional requirements necessary for continued progress including the Lincoln County Board of Education complying with student IEPs and making course schedules available by August 10, 2022.  The Lincoln County reports are available on the WVDE website, and the State of Emergency extension is also posted online.

The WVBE also received preliminary statewide student assessment and career technical assessment results. The 2021-2022 school year was the first complete, in-person school year in three years to not be interrupted by Covid-19. The West Virginia General Summative Assessment (WVGSA) was not administered in 2020 due to schools being closed and new benchmarks were established last year (2021).

The data show student achievement is beginning to rebound in most of the math and English Language Arts (ELA) indicators for Grades 3 – 8. Gains ranging from eight points in math and six points in ELA were reported. Additionally, career technical education (CTE) students continue to make strides in their NOCTI technical assessments with 59 percent of CTE students in West Virginia exceeding the national workforce entry score. More than 9,200 students in the state participated in the NOCTI assessment last school year.

Finally, the WVBE placed several policies on public comment for 30 days. These may be reviewed on the WVDE website.

Policy 6200 is being amended to include new statutory language regarding water bottle filling stations within school facilities, in accordance with Senate Bill 246, passed during the 2022 regular legislative session. Policy 6200 is also being amended to embed the contents of Policy 6201, Floor Covering in Public Schools.

Policy 2445.40 is being amended to reflect changes in W.Va. Code §18-5-27 regarding parents, caregivers, and custodians’ rights to inspect instructional materials, access to a list of required reading materials available or within a syllabus, and the process to file a complaint with the county or WVDE. Changes to the adoption cycle timeline and language to clarify vendor registration are also included in the revisions.

The next regularly scheduled WVBE meeting is 9:00 a.m., Wednesday, August 10, 2022, in Building 6, Room 600, 1900 Kanawha Boulevard, East, Charleston, West Virginia.

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