A bill to improve art and music education, advocated by the WVAEA, the WVMEA, and endorsed by the WVPTA, Elementary Principals, WVEA, WV Delta Kappa Gamma, and other local organizations, is sponsored co by Senator Shirley Love and other senators and by Delegate Emily Yeager and other members of the House of Delegates. A number of questions have been asked about this bill. Answers are given below.
QUESTION: How many counties will be affected by this bill?
ANSWER: Eighteen counties with 23,079 K-4 students in 125 schools: Barbour, Braxton, Calhoun, Doddridge, Hampshire, Logan, Mason, McDowell, Pendleton, Pleasants, Pocahontas, Putnam, Raleigh, Randolph, Ritchie, Summers, Tyler, and Wirt.
QUESTION: What does the bill do?
ANSWER: The bill defines "Art Teacher" and "Music Teacher" in terms of -their certification (a college degree in art or music is required). The bill also requires each county school district to employ at least one art teacher and one music teacher to provide direct teaching or to serve as a re.-source teacher for K-4 students.
QUESTION: How many teachers are needed?
ANSWER: 21 (18 art teachers plus 3 music teachers).
QUESTION: Is it an unfunded mandate?
ANSWER: No. Coverage for teachers' planning periods is already built into the school funding formula. At the present time 37 counties employ K-4 art teachers and 52 employ K-4 music teachers for this purpose.
QUESTION: What will it cost? How do we change the funding formula to accommodate 18 counties?
ANSWER: This bill requires no new money and no change in the funding formula (though most educators agree that any increase in the formula would be helpful). The 1993 Legislature guaranteed a daily planning period for every teacher in the West Virginia public schools and provided the money for someone to teach each class once a day for at least 30 minutes while the regular multi-subject classroom teacher takes a planning period away from the classroom. (See 18A-4-14.)
In 1993 West Virginia did not graduate enough art and music teachers to take care of all counties needing them to cover planning periods. Today we can provide the remaining 18 art teachers and three music teachers needed for this purpose.
QUESTION: How can one art teacher cover the planning periods for every K-4 classroom in the larger school districts
ANSWER: Because one art teacher could not possibly cover the planning periods for all of the K-4 classrooms in many counties, the bill introduces the concept of a "resource teacher"--a concept not previously used in West Virginia, but used in a number of other states. A resource teacher spends at least 50% of instructional time each week in direct teaching activities in one or more schools building a "model" art program. In addition, the resource teacher spends no more than 50% of instructional time assisting self-contained multi-subject classroom teachers through demonstration lessons, televised lessons, provision of lesson plans, workshops, virtual classroom, and other services designed to improve the quality of instruction in art for students.
QUESTION: The bill does not require these teachers to be employed until the 2002-2003 school year. Why wait so long?
ANSWER: There are people (permanent substitutes, instructional aides, and others) who are presently providing planning period coverage and who will need to be transferred to other assignments. The final date for transfer list notification is March 31, The bill may be passed after that date and school districts need time to reassign staff.
QUESTION: Can we implement this bill in the 2001-2002 school year?
ANSWER: The bill provides for grants to some of the 18 affected counties to pay salaries of art and/or music teachers for the 2001-2002 school year. The amount of money available for such grants is to be determined by the legislature. $500,000.00 could cover salaries and benefits for 10 teachers for a year.
QUESTION: What will be the benefits of passage of the bill?
ANSWER: The benefits would be many, among them:
1. It can be done now, without further delay.
2. It will improve instruction for 23,079 K-4 students in 18 West Virginia county school districts.
3. Students will learn the basic foundations for further study of art and music so that when they reach high school, apply for college entry, scholarships, and jobs, they will be able to compete with students from other counties and states. (At least one-third of the jobs in our nation require a background in one or more arts, e.g., design, architecture, publishing, sound engineering, advertising, clothing manufacture, photography.)
4. It will keep our art and music education graduates in WV
5. The quality of the art and music instruction in the schools is often a factor in attracting new business to a community.
6. It will prevent any county school district from eliminating all K-4 art and music teachers in time of financial crisis.
7. Permanent substitutes or other school personnel could be freed for other assignments where needed.
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Jeanne Moore, 304-549-1112.