Whatever Happened to SB 223?

By Jeanne Moore, WVMEA Legislative Liaison

On the evening of March 11, 2000, the final day of the West Virginia Legislative Session, the remnants of SB 223 (providing grants for a few art and music teachers for elementary schools not currently employing specialists) died.

SB 223, introduced in the Senate on Jan. 27 with 22 senators as sponsors, was referred to the Senate Education Committee (SEC) and the Senate Finance Committee (SFC). Three days earlier HB 4141 had been introduced in the House and was referred to the House Education Committee (HEC). Both bills were widely supported by WVAEA, WVMEA, WVPTA, professional musicians, artists, gallery owners, and other arts groups.

At present, according to WVDE Arts Coordinator Fran Kirk, 40 counties provide art specialists and 49 counties provide music specialists at all grade levels. The bills introduced defined the certification of art and music specialists; required that at least one of each be provided at the elementary level in every county; described the duties of a K-4/6 resource teacher; and provided grants for the first year's salary for 15 or 16 of the 21 teachers needed for full implementation (placing one art and/or one music teacher in each county not currently employing specialists for elementary grades). Total cost should have been no more than $750,000 for one year only. After the initial year, county administrators should be able to move staff so that "planning period coverage" personnel displaced by art and music teachers could be retained in other positions.

Early in February I called upon 83 delegates, identifying 66 who offered support for HB 4141 and SB 223. On February 17, Committee Substitute for SB 223 was adopted by the SEC. It retained only the definitions of art and music teachers, the provision for grants for some counties, and it stated that "…there may be appropriated funds in an amount to be determined by the Legislature…." The bill was moved on the SFC.

By the end of March 2, the last day for bills to be reported out of committees in the house of origin, Committee Substitute For SB 223 had not been reported out. The following Monday, the SEC amended it into HB 4399 (already passed by the House, sent to the Senate, and referred it to the SEC). Using a new designation as the Senate Amendments to Committee Substitute For HB 4399, the arts bill was passed unanimously by the Senate on March 8 and sent to the House.

The House of Delegates convened at approximately 11am on March 9. After an hour of 50 reports the bill was haphazardly announced and was ordered back to the Senate with the request that the Senate remove the amendments. After the session several members reported not even hearing the bill being announced. During the remaining two days of the session, Senator Jackson worked for the bill's passage, negotiating with Delegate Mezzatesta, the HEC Chairman. He was unsuccessful, however, and SB 223 died, leaving approximately 26,000 elementary school students without the services of an arts specialist.

Art and music educators are asked to thank all senators for their support. Delegates should be contacted with messages expressing disappointment and the hope that arts education will be given more careful consideration in the House next year. It is vitally important that all friends of arts education make their interests and expectations known to candidates running for the West Virginia Legislature. Now is the time to let your voice be heard!

All the Senators and the following Delegates expressed support for arts education:

Barbour: Joe Mattaliano

Berkeley: Vicki Douglas, John Overington (R)

Boone: Earnest Kuhn

Braxton: Brent Boggs

Brooke: Timothy Ennis, Roy Givens

Cabell: Susan Hubbard, Evan Jenkins, Margarette Leach, Charles Romine (R), Jody Smirl

Fayette: William Laird, Tom Louisos, John Peno

Greenbrier: Thomas Campbell, Carroll Willis

Hancock: Jeff Davis

Harrison: Frank Angotti, Samuel Cann, Barbara Warner

Jackson: Karen Facemyer (R)

Jefferson: John Doyle, Dale Manuel

Kanawha: Jon Amores, Tim Armstead (R), Ann Calvert Barbara Hatfield, Mark Hunt, Tamara Pettit, Larry Rowe, Joe Smith, Sharon Spencer

Lewis: Douglas Stalnaker (R)

Lincoln: Sammy Dalton, Tracy Dempsey

Logan: Greg Butcher

Marion: Michael Caputo, A. James Mansion, Paul Prunty

Marshall: Kenneth Tucker

McDowell: Emily Yeager

Mercer: Richard Flanigan, Eustace Frederick

Mineral: Robert Schadler (R)

Monongalia: Barbara Fleischaur, Sheirl Fletcher (R), Nancy Houston, Charlene Marshall

Monroe: Mary Pearl Compton

Nicholas: John Shelton

Ohio: Tal Hutchins

Pleasants: Otis Leggett (R)

Putnam: Jerry Kelley, Brady Paxton, Lisa Smith

Raleigh: Robert Kiss, Warren McGraw, Sally Susman, Ron Thompson

Roane: Oscar Hines

Summers: Virginia Mahan

Taylor: Tom Coleman

Tyler: James Willison (R)

Wayne: Mark Ross

Webster: Randy White

Wood: Tom Azinger (R), J.D. Beane, Rick Modesitt (R)

Wyoming: Joe Sparks