House bill

House bill would add one assistant to each first- and second-year class

Delegates are proposing a bill that would add more help to West Virginia’s first and second grade classrooms.

Cody Thompson

“I urge you to support this bill. This is a very good bill,” said Delegate Cody Thompson, D-Randolph.

“Those young years when you’re in primary school, that’s where you build your foundation for education. Having an extra pair of hands in there, an extra pair of eyes, will ensure our young students get the best education possible.

House Bill 4467 would establish an obligation to provide aids for grades one and two.

The House Education Committee discussed the bill and moved it forward Wednesday afternoon.

The law project also establishes maximum student-teacher ratios for the early years.

For pre-kindergarten and kindergarten, the cap would be no more than 20 students for each teacher and assistant. For the first and second years, the class limit would be no more than 25 students for each teacher and assistant. And for the third, fourth and fifth years, the limit would not be more than 25 students per teacher.

The financial projection is $68 million, officials said, affecting about 1,800 classrooms. A tax note has been requested, but has not yet been completed. The bill must also be reviewed by the House Finance Committee.

Before the start of the legislative session, House Speaker Roger Hanshaw, R-Clay, said funding aid in the early years was a top priority for him. He cited public investment to support senior levels in recent years, but said this would not bear fruit if younger students did not have sufficient support to prepare.

Roger Hanshaw

Hanshaw is the main sponsor of the bill.

“What I do know is that the problem is the student-teacher ratio in those early years,” Hanshaw said as he appeared on a legislative preview panel.

“That’s where my support comes from. This is to make sure that we don’t send children to higher grades to take advantage of the things we’ve been trying to do for the last four years in a way that they can’t reap the benefits.