Study | Report | Audit | Survey | Research

Study, Report, Audit, Survey, Research

WV Ranks 43rd Nationally in Kids’ Well-Being

The Free Press WV

West Virginia ranks 43rd in the country in terms of children’s well-being, according to the latest Kids Count report.

Last year, West Virginia ranked 39th. The year before that, the state ranked 43rd. And in 2014, West Virginia ranked 37th.

The data to judge children’s well-being is gathered annually by KidsCount, which is produced by the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

West Virginia’s economic well-being rank is 42nd nationally, and its health rank is 36th. A rank indicating the state’s strength of family and community is 33rd.

Although the latest report was released in June, the data actually reflects what was happening through 2015, the most recent full year of statistics available.

West Virginia was worse than the national average in several indicators of child well-being.

Twenty-five percent of children in West Virginia live in poverty, compared to the 21 percent national average. West Virginia had the same percentage last year and has been around that same ratio several years in a row.

The raw number of West Virginia considered to be living in poverty is 94,000.

The percentage of children whose parents lack secure employment was 37 percent in West Virginia, compared to the national average of 29 percent.

West Virginia has a slightly higher than average percentage of children living in single-parent families. West Virginia’s rate is 38 percent. That’s compared to the national average of 35 percent.

West Virginia’s percentage of low-birthweight babies is 9.6 percent. The national average is 8.1 percent.

“Babies born with a low birthweight have a high probability of experiencing developmental problems and short- and long-term disabilities and are at greater risk of dying within the first year of life,” according to Kids Count.

“Smoking, poor nutrition, poverty, stress, infections and violence can increase the risk of a baby being born with a low birthweight.”

West Virginia’s child and teen death rate is 29 per 100,000. That’s a bit lower than other years of the recent past. The national average is 25 out of 100,000. Kids Count notes that accidents, particularly vehicle accidents, are the leading cause of death for youth.

In some areas, West Virginia did better than the national average.

The children living in households with a high housing cost burden was 22 percent in West Virginia, compared to 33 percent for the nation.

Compared to the national average, West Virgnia’s poverty is spread out. Kids Count says 9 percent of West Virginia children live in communities of concentrated poverty. The national average is 14 percent.

“Concentrated poverty puts whole neighborhoods, and the people living in them, at risk. High-poverty neighborhoods are much more likely than others to have high rates of crime and violence, physical and mental health issues, unemployment and other problems,” according to Kids Count.

~~  Brad McElhinny ~~

ICYMI™: Gilmer County’s 2016 Drinking Water Quality Report

The Free Press WV
The Free Press WV

What is the quality of your drinking water?

What are new developments and initiatives conducted by the Gilmer County Public Service District?

Where does your water come from?

How is it treated?

The answers to these questions and more are included in the 2016 Annual Drinking Water Quality Report, the latest report issued by GCPSD.

Click HERE to review and print the report.

Glenville City Council Minutes

The Free Press WV
May 01, 2017
7:00 PM

The meeting was called to order at 7:00 p.m. by Mayor Fitzpatrick with Council members Wiant, Taylor, Huffman, Walters, and Fisher present.

Pledge of Allegiance

I. Call to Order

II. Public


A. Approval of Minutes – April 03, 2017, 2017

Minutes for the April 03, 2017, were reviewed and corrections were noted and placed on file for audit. The April 18, 2017 minutes to Lay the Levy were reviewed with no corrections and placed on file for audit.

III. Reports

B. Financial

The book keeper noted that a letter from the state auditor’s office had been received stating we are in compliance and approved our budget to begin July 01, 2017. The budget is currently at 83.29% of fiscal year with revenue at 100.0% and expenditures at 75.06%. Coal Severance fund is near 100% of budgeted amount and will only be used for minor expenses for the remainder of the fiscal year. Gilmer Management payments will be deducted from the Treasurer’s Office line item through the remainder of the fiscal year.

The auditor’s office cited the omission of the carryover amount in the budget, however, it is difficult to determine the amount to carry over to next fiscal year early in the budget.

Mayor Fitzpatrick noted that paving could begin this month or in June.

Councilman Huffman made a motion to approve the financial report as presented. Councilman Fisher seconded the motion. Motion passed.

C. Street report

Mayor Fitzpatrick provided the street report and stated a new garage door was needed on the new addition and would be paid from Street Fund. Councilwoman Huffman made a motion to allow the purchase of a new garage door at an approximate cost of $700. Councilman Walters seconded the motion. Motion passed. Councilwoman Huffman complimented our street department for their excellent work with projects around the city.

D. Police

Mayor Fitzpatrick provided the police report in Chief Huffman’s absence. The new officer will come on duty on May 16 and will work approximately one month before going to the Academy.

E. Glenville Utility

Mayor Fitzpatrick attended the April 25 meeting. Three minor service line leaks on water side with a 2” leak near McDonald’s area which resulted in a boil water advisory. Nothing on sewer side. Mentioned paving to Utility Board and they have purchased water meter rings for adjustments before paving.

F. Recorder

Nothing to report.

G. Mayors Comments

- Citywide Yard Sale June 09-10

Mayor Fitzpatrick suggested June 09-10 as tentative dates for the FREE Citywide yard sale. Councilman Walters made a motion to set the citywide yard sale for June 9-10. Councilwoman Taylor seconded the motion. Motion passed.

- Thank you to GSC football Team (clean up)

Mayor Fitzpatrick noted that more than 60 team members volunteered to assist with the citywide cleanup for Make It Shine Day and wanted to thank all for their help.

- Lions Club Carnival set upon May 21 and runs through Saturday May 27th

Carnival is set for May 24-27 at Foodland lot.

- Reminder to public (keep grass cut)

Reminder for citizens to keep grass cut on their property. The city has cut grass for vacant areas in Camden Flats and invoiced the owners. Councilwoman Taylor mentioned an area below her house that may need mowing. Mayor Fitzpatrick will look into this.

- 2017 Paving Update

The remaining areas needing paving were measured and estimated $40K -$50,000 to finish the paving project. A quote has been received from JF Allen and quotes from WV Paving and North Central Paving should be submitted this week. Councilwoman Huffman made a motion to allow Mayor Fitzpatrick to accept the lowest bid for paving in the amount of low $40,000 or below. Councilman Walters seconded the motion. Motion passed.

- Paint the town blue April 27th at 5:30

Officers from the City, County, State Police, Fire Department, FCI Gilmer, and Glenville State College participated in this event in its second year.

IV. Unfinished Business


V. New Business


VI. Other Business to come before Council


VII. Next council meeting – June 05, 2017 at 7:00 PM

VIII. Adjourn

Meeting adjourned at 7:18 PM

Glenville State College Saves Energy and Resources

Largest GSC Campus-wide Energy Efficiency Project Exceeds Savings and Sustainability Goals
The Free Press WV

Energy savings data reports indicate that Glenville State College (GSC) exceeded the anticipated impact of its campus-wide energy efficiency and facility modernization project by approximately $184,000 in the first two years since the project’s completion.

Underscoring its commitment to advancing education, economic growth, and community development, Glenville State College selected Energy Systems Group (ESG), a leading energy service provider, to implement the largest campus-wide improvement project in GSC’s history. The $4.1 million project, completed in 2014, included comprehensive energy efficiency and building improvements to reduce energy costs, modernize building systems and technologies, and enhance the environment.

Working with local subcontractors and vendors, Energy Systems Group implemented a wide range of energy efficiency and infrastructure improvements in 13 campus buildings, spanning approximately 608,500 square feet, including the President’s House and the Community Center. The improvements, expected to result in more than $176,000 of energy savings annually over the 15-year term of the contract, included lighting upgrades, heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning system upgrades, window replacements, a demand response program, and the conversion of gas wells to feed GSC facilities directly.

By implementing these key facility modernization measures, Glenville State College will reduce its carbon footprint by more than 1,600 metric tons of carbon dioxide, which is equivalent to generating enough electricity to power more than 150 homes or planting more than 1,300 acres of forest.

“This is an excellent result for Glenville State College, both financially and environmentally,“ said Dr. Peter Barr, President of Glenville State College. “Energy Systems Group has done a great job helping us reach our goal of being a more energy-efficient and sustainable campus,“ added Barr. “These improvements, which were primarily funded by energy savings, allowed Glenville State College to enhance the learning environment for students and more efficiently allocate financial resources, all while becoming a more environmentally responsible campus.“ “ESG was also instrumental in helping GSC qualify for a zero percent $1 million loan through the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission.“

“It’s really no surprise that this project is delivering as promised and more,“ said Tom Ratliff, Executive Director of the Physical Plant for Glenville State College. “Our facilities are not only more comfortable to be in, yet these improvements have also dramatically improved the aesthetics of campus buildings, and helped us achieve a solid foundation for continuing sustainability efforts.“

“We commend Dr. Barr and the Glenville State College facilities team for pioneering this innovative approach and vision to making GSC a more sustainable, modernized, and environmentally responsible campus,“ said Audra Blackwell, ESG Business Development Manager. “ESG is proud to be part of GSC’s continued academic success and to help promote energy conservation and facility modernization on campus.“

To learn more about the Glenville State College energy efficiency project, visit

Energy Systems Group (ESG), a wholly-owned subsidiary of Vectren Corporation (NYSE:VVC), is a leading energy services provider that specializes in energy efficiency, sustainability, and infrastructure improvement solutions in the government, education, healthcare, commercial, and industrial sectors. ESG also offers a full range of sustainable infrastructure solutions including waste-to-energy, distributed generation, and renewable energy. To learn more about ESG, visit

The West Virginia Secretary of State’s Office Releases Report on First 100 Days

The Free Press WV

West Virginia Secretary of State Mac Warner announces the release of a report detailing the first 100 days since taking office January 16, 2017.

The report details the successes of the Office, including the reorganization of the Charleston office, the creation of the seven-member Field Service Team, the work being done with county clerks to clean up voter rolls, and much more.

You can review the full report by clicking HERE .

How to Cut WV Poverty Rate? Pay Women More

The Free Press WV

In a new report, the Institute for Women’s Policy Research compared incomes of women and men of the same ages and education levels, working the same number of hours.

It found for West Virginia, women would see their average earnings increase almost $6,500 a year if paid the same as men.

And, since women are now breadwinners in half of American families with young children, the report says 26 million children across the U.S. also would benefit from their moms making more.

So, study director Jessica Milli says closing the gender wage gap is much more than a women’s issue.

“The additional income that equal pay would add to family incomes would reduce the poverty rate among children by nearly half, and so that was also a really striking finding from our analysis,“ she states.

The report says closing the pay gap would reduce the poverty rate in West Virginia from 8.5 percent to 5.3 percent, and add about $2.5 billion annually to the state’s economy.

Now, on average, a woman would have to work 10 years longer than a man to close the pay gap.

Milli adds the gap isn’t always a result of intentional unfairness – it’s partly because more women work in jobs that have traditionally paid less.

She says states and Congress could do more to modernize pay-related laws.

“Legislation that prohibits employers from asking potential new hires for their salary histories when they’re thinking about making an offer to them would have a huge impact on pay equality between men and women,“ she states.

Milli notes closing the pay gap would boost the entire U.S. economy, adding $500 billion a year nationally.

For now, women earn about 80 cents for every dollar a man makes, which translates to a loss that tops $415,000 dollars over a 40-year career.

~~  Chris Thomas ~~

City of Glenville Police Report

The Gilmer Free Press
City of Glenville, WV Police Report
Crime/Ordinance Violation
Overdose Garrett Subject transported to hospital Conrad Motel
Speeding Garrett Warning W. Main Street
Defective Equipment Garrett Warning S. Lewis Street
Speeding Garrett Warning W. Main Street
Speeding Garrett Warning W. Main Street
Speeding Garrett Warning W. Main Street
Speeding Garrett Warning W. Main Street
Speeding Garrett Warning W. Main Street
Defective Equipment Garrett Warning Issued for Defective Equipment and Cited for Expired Operators W. Main Street
Illegal Use of Horn Garrett Warnings Issued for Illegal use of horn and failure to change address W. Main Street
Speeding Garrett Warning W. Main Street
Speeding Garrett Warning W. Main Street
Speeding Garrett Cited W. Main Street
Child Restraint Garrett Cited W. Main Street
Robbery Garrett Criminal Investigation Started W. Main Street
Cellphone Garrett Cited W. Main Street
Speeding Garrett Warnings Issued for Speeding and Unsigned Registration W. Main Street
Speeding Huffman Warnings Issued for Speeding, No Proof of Registration, and no Proof of Insurance N. Lewis Street
No Plates Huffman No Proof of registration and No Plates on vehicle (driver stated plates had been stolen) N. Lewis Street
No Seatbelt Huffman Cited for No Seatbelt and Cell phone while driving N. Lewis Street
Trespassing Huffman Children removed from the property and informed if they returned they would be charged for trespassing Brooklyn
Speeding Garrett Cited W. Main Street
Speeding Garrett Cited W. Main Street
Speeding Garrett Cited W. Main Street
Defective Equipment Garrett Cited Powell Street
Speeding Huffman Cited N. Lewis Street
Speeding Huffman Cited N. Lewis Street
Assist another agency Huffman Assisted Sheriff Department with a missing persons Lick Run
Vehicle Unlock Huffman Vehicle unlocked Glenville Gardens
Speeding Huffman Warning W. Main Street
Speeding Huffman Warning N. Lewis Street
Speeding Huffman Cited for Speeding and warning Issued for No Proof of Registration N. Lewis Street
Serve Capias Huffman/Garrett One Subject arrested and transported to Central Regional Jail Magistrate Court
Speeding Huffman 2 vehicles stopped for speeding 1st vehicle cited for speeding and no proof of insurance 2nd vehicle cited for speeding and driving on suspended 1st offense W. Main Street
Speeding Huffman Cited W. Main Street
Speeding Huffman Cited W. Main Street
Speeding Huffman Cited W. Main Street
Improper Registration Garrett Warning E. Main Street
Speeding Garrett Warning W. Main Street
Passing in no passing zone Garrett Warning W. Main Street
Speeding Garrett Cited W. Main Street
Speeding Garrett Cited W. Main Street
Defective Equipment Garrett Cited W. Main Street
Speeding Garrett Cited W. Main Street
Suspicious Person Huffman Located subject approximately an hour after initial call everything was ok I sent the individual back to his motel room and advised him that if I had anymore calls about him  I would take him to Central Regional Jail College Street

Glenville City Council Meeting Report

The Free Press WV
April 03, 2017
7:00 PM

The meeting was called to order at 7:00 p.m. by Mayor Dennis Fitzpatrick with Council members Fisher, Wiant, and Walters present. 

Councilmembers Taylor and Huffman were absent.

Pledge of Allegiance

I. Call to Order

Public Comments

Jessica Greenlief came before council with proclamations for Alcohol Awareness and Child Abuse Prevention. 

She noted the blue pinwheels is the national symbol for child abuse prevention and April is designated as Child Abuse Prevention month. 

Her daughter, Aurora Williams, gave each council member a blue pinwheel lapel pin representing Child Abuse Prevention. 

Many blue pinwheels have been placed around the city and they will have a brunch to honor grandparents for caring for many of the children in addition to many other activities. 

This is also Alcohol Awareness month. 

The proclamations for Child Abuse Prevention and Alcohol Awareness and were read and signed by Mayor Fitzpatrick. 

A. Approval of Minutes – January 04, 2016

The minutes from the March 06, 2017 meeting were reviewed. 

No corrections were noted and minutes were placed on file for audit.

II. Reports


We are currently at 75.61% if fiscal year budget with 86.39% revenue and 67.59% expenses. 

The new budget request was submitted to the state auditor’s office with confirmation of receipt. 

The payment for Gilmer Management will move to the Treasurer’s Office line item. 

Councilman Walters made a motion to approve the financial report as presented.  Councilman Fisher seconded the motion.  Motion passed.

Councilman Walters made a motion to approve a pay raise for the office assistant, Mindi Fitzpatrick, beginning July 01, 2017. 

Councilman Fisher seconded the motion.  Motion passed.

Street Report

Mayor Fitzpatrick provided the street report. 

The workers are very busy daily.

Police Report

Chief Huffman provided the police report to council. 

The new city officer will begin work on May 16 with his application to the Academy due by April 28 and will attend the academy on June 12.

Glenville Utility

Mayor attended the utility meeting on March 28. 

No leaks to report.

The Lift station pump installation is complete. 

Western Auto slip has been corrected.


Nothing to report

Mayor Comments

- Enforce penalty phase in existing Municipal Fee Ordinance

Penalty phase still in progress

- Citywide clean up – April 08.

GSC football team will volunteer for this yearly activity.

- Lay the Levy – April 18th

Council meeting is scheduled for April 18, at 6:00 p.m. to Lay the Levy.

- 5:30 Paint the Town Blue (honoring our police officers) the 27th

A public event to honor our police officers is scheduled for April 27th at 5:30 p.m. at the City Park.

5K Run/Walk – April 07, 2017

Glenville State College student organization Pioneers for a Cause is planning the annual Relay for Life walk on April 07 from 6:00 p.m. to 1200 midnight and the annual Color the World without Autism 5K run/walk on April 11 beginning at 5:30 p.m. 

III. Unfinished Business


IV. New Business

Chief Huffman mentioned that the Gilmer County Pony League is planning 5K run/walk and he is working to set up route. 

They will request council approval in May.

V. Other Business to come before Council

Councilman Walters asked about paving the remaining streets this year. 

Councilman Fisher made a motion to approve Mayor Fitzpatrick secure estimates to pave the remaining streets in the city for 2017. 

Councilman Walters seconded the motion.  Motion passed.

*Chief Huffman asked about the schedule for the roundabout. 

Mayor Fitzpatrick noted that he had a letter from the state that they would be seeing some activity at the end of 2016 and hope to start actual work on roundabout end of 2017 or beginning of 2018.

Mayor Fitzpatrick has talked with McKenzie Murphy regarding the bridge repair on Sycamore.

They have corrected the engineering issues and are waiting on supplies to begin the bridge repair.

Next City Council Meeting

The next council meeting will be May 01, 2017, at 7:00 p.m.

VI. Adjourn

Meeting adjourned at 7:20 p.m.

Report: More Mountain State Students Pursuing Higher Education

Braxton, Doddridge and Clay counties lead the way in improving college-going rates

The Free Press WV

More West Virginia high school graduates went on to pursue higher education last year, according to a report released by the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission (HEPC) and West Virginia Community and Technical College System (CTCS). The college-going rate increased for the second consecutive year, inching up by 0.3 percent — or 266 students — from 2015 to 2016.

“These gains, while subtle, represent a solid step in the right direction,” Dr. Paul Hill, HEPC Chancellor, said. “For several years, the impact of the 2008 recession led to wide variations in college-going rates, not only in West Virginia but across the nation. Now that the economy is beginning to stabilize, we’re more confident that the small strides we’re witnessing represent genuine progress in creating a college-going culture in West Virginia — a process that takes time and occurs student by student, community by community.”

Braxton, Doddridge and Clay counties led the state in achieving the highest rates of improvement in college-going rates from 2015 to 2016. Braxton County High School (Braxton), Magnolia High School (Wetzel) and Chapmanville Regional High School (Logan) showed the greatest gains at the school level. Ohio, Mineral and Monongalia counties had the highest rates overall. A complete list of rates by school and county is available at

“West Virginia needs more college graduates to grow its economy and invigorate its workforce,” Dr. Sarah Tucker, CTCS Chancellor, said. “I commend those high schools and school districts that are putting a real focus on helping their students pursue some form of postsecondary education. The future prosperity of our state depends on getting more students into college and ensuring they succeed and graduate.”

The 2016 Higher Education Report Card, released last fall by HEPC and CTCS, also outlined gains in college retention and a record number of degrees awarded by the state’s public colleges and universities.

HEPC and CTCS are charged with developing and implementing a five-year statewide strategic plan for higher education that includes a strong focus on improving access to higher education and promoting college completion and success. As part of this process, the agencies have in recent years launched a number of strategies that are proving to have an impact on higher education attainment.

For example, the federally funded “Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP)” initiative provides college mentoring and planning services to middle and high school students in ten of the state’s most economically challenged counties. The statewide College Foundation of West Virginia (CFWV) initiative offers information, including text message counseling, to help students navigate the college application and enrollment processes. And recent policy changes overhauling the delivery of developmental education and encouraging students to enroll in a minimum of 15 credit hours per semester are showing promising results toward raising college graduation rates.

Glenville City Council Meeting Minutes

The Free Press WV
March 06, 2017
7:00 p.m.


The meeting was called to order at 7:00 p.m. by Mayor Fitzpatrick with Council members Wiant, Taylor, Walters, and Fisher present. Councilwoman Huffman was absent.

Pledge of Allegiance


Led by the Boy Scout Troop

I. Call to Order

II. Public



A. Approval of Minutes – February 06, 2017


Minutes for the February 06, 2017, meeting were reviewed and placed on file for audit.

III. Reports

B. Financial


The budget is currently at 68.21% of fiscal year with revenue at 77.74% and expenditures at 62.00%. The book keeper requested a transfer of funds to the following:


$9000 from 700 - Police Dept to 750 - Street Dept


$6200 from 699 - Contingency Fund to 410 – City Council ($3000) and 413 – Treasurers Office ($3200)


$1000 – Coal Severance to 916 – Library


Councilwoman Taylor made a motion to approve the transfer of funds. Councilman Walters seconded the motion. Motion passed.

The budget workshop went well and the new budget will be submitted to the State Auditor’s office for approval. Council will meet on April 18 to Lay the Levy.


Councilman Walters made a motion to approve the financial report as presented. Councilman Wiant seconded the motion. Motion passed.

C. Street report


Mayor Fitzpatrick provided the street report and noted the workers installed the LED lights in the stoplight.

D. Police


Chief Huffman provided the police report to council. He requested executive session to discuss personnel matters.


Council will go into executive session at the end of the meeting.

E. Glenville Utility


Mayor Fitzpatrick attended the February 28 meeting.


There were three (3) service line leaks that were repaired.


On sewer side, the new pump installation was completed at the lift station at Fitzwater’s on Rt. 5E.


There was approximately 300 ft. slip behind Western Auto and the pipe was replaced.

F. Recorder


Nothing to report.

G. Mayors Comments

- Update Municipal Ordinance Penalty Phase

Still in progress

- City Wide Clean Up – April 08

Make It Shine is scheduled for April 08 at 9:00 a.m.


Volunteers will meet at the football field and cover the city limits.


This will take approximately 2 hours.


The GSC football team will volunteer.

- Pi 5K Run 9:00 a.m. – (Route may change) Saturday March 18th

There will be a change in route for 5K run due to the bridge being out on Sycamore.


They will begin at the WACO center to Sycamore Road and return.

- Update on Camp Workers

Lost 2 camp workers last fall. Now have a new worker with hope to get a second worker.


Mayor has sent a letter to FCI-Gilmer requesting second worker.

- Laying of Levy April 18th

Council will meet to Lay the Levy on Tuesday, April 18, at 6:00 p.m.

- Resolution (guardrails installed on Route 5 going East)

The resolution was read on behalf of the citizens in Gilmer County that Glenville City Council supports this idea.


Mayor Fitzpatrick signed the resolution.

Councilman Wiant made a motion to move into executive session at 7:11 p.m. Councilman Fisher seconded the motion. Motion passed.


Councilman Wiant made a motion for council to move out of executive session at 7:27 p.m. Councilwoman Taylor seconded the motion. Motion passed.


Councilman Walters made a motion to approve Chief Huffman to hire Mr. Gandy as the new police officer. Councilwoman Taylor seconded the motion. Motion passed.


Councilwoman Taylor made a motion to approve Chief Huffman to participate in Drug Take-back Day. Councilman Wiant seconded the motion. Motion passed.

IV. Unfinished Business



V. New Business


Councilman Wiant asked about the River Clean Up project through grant money. He suggested trees under the bridge would be a good area to clean up and noted the project should start this week. Mayor Fitzpatrick will talk with Eric Squires.


Councilman Walters asked about the decision for the River Street property. It had been previously suggested to become a community garden and Mayor Fitzpatrick would like to continue with this.


Councilman Wiant understood the walkway on old bridge is scheduled for possible repair.

VI. Other Business to come before Council



VII. Next council meeting


April 03, 2017 at 7:00 p.m.


Meeting to Lay the Levy – Tuesday, April 18, at 6:00 p.m.

VIII. Adjourn

Meeting adjourned at 7:32 p.m.


WV’s Public Colleges and Universities….


State Has Lowest Number Of College Grads
The Free Press WV

West Virginia, among the lowest number of college and university graduates, has had the average tuition increased by about $4,200 a year, or roughly 147 percent, in the past 15 years,according to the WV Center on Budget and Policy.

The highest rate of increase in that time period was at Glenville State College, where tuition went from $2,700 to $7,344, a 172 percent increase, according to the report.

Charleston lawmakers are debating how much higher education should be cut in next year’s budget.

The West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy said incremental increases eroded how much of a student’s tuition financial aid programs are able to cover.

“I think this is important to be aware of in a state like West Virginia, which has the lowest level of college-educated adults in its workforce, higher education is one of the areas we should be investing in, not cutting,” said Sean O’Leary, a senior policy analyst at the center.

“The proposals that have come out of the Legislature this year all have further cuts to higher education,” said O’Leary.

In his first State of the State address, Gov. Jim Justice proposed cutting state funding to West Virginia University and Marshall University by 4.4 percent each, which would be roughly $5.9 million and $2.8 million respectively.

The House Finance Committee got a glimpse of what could be the House’s budget for next year. It kept the cuts Gov. Justice proposed, while also cutting $1.28 million from community and technical colleges and about $5 million more from other four-year colleges.

“The colleges can use tuition increase to make up for those cuts, and that’s exactly what we’ve been seeing,” O’Leary said. “I think we’re starting to get to the point now where tuition increases have really made colleges a lot less affordable than it use to be.”

His report, which pulled data from the Higher Education Policy Commission, the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the U.S. Department of Education, does not take into consideration fees or the cost of room and board.

Had the cost of tuition kept pace with the rate of inflation, O’Leary said tuition would have increased only 33 percent from 2002 to 2016.

Some education experts say the problem with college debt is ever increasing in the USA.

Research Raises Doubts About Benefits of Consolidation

The Free Press WV

Policies that promote school consolidation are likely to do more harm than good, conclude the authors of a new policy brief published today by the National Education Policy Center (NEPC) at the University of Colorado at Boulder.

Consolidation of Schools and Districts: What the Research Says and What It Means, authored by Craig Howley, Jerry Johnson, and Jennifer Petrie of Ohio University, provides a comprehensive review and analysis of research literature on school consolidation.

The brief comes at a time when policymakers, driven in part by a desire to save money, are showing renewed interest in school consolidation. At least eight states have considered or enacted consolidation proposals in recent years despite strong evidence that school and district consolidation does not generally save money.

Howley, Johnson and Petrie point out that since the mid-20th century school consolidation has advanced rapidly. In 1931 there were 117,500 U.S. school districts. By 1997 there were only 14,000 districts. Correspondingly, in 1869, 6.87 million students were enrolled in 100,000 public schools; by 1999, 47.9 million students were enrolled in just 65,000 public schools.

For decades, consolidation was championed by school reformers as a way to provide more comprehensive education and to provide other benefits, such as single-grade classes and greater professionalization among teachers and administrators alike. But since 1970, according to the brief’s authors, research findings have raised significant questions about the benefits of consolidation. They note that “contemporary research, as a body and almost to a study, has not recommended consolidation as either a way to save tax dollars or to improve the outcomes or quality of schooling.”

“Research on the effects of contemporary consolidation suggests that new consolidation is likely to result in neither greater efficiency nor better instructional outcomes—especially when it results from state policy that implements large-scale forced consolidation,” the authors write. “The consolidation strategy seems to have reached the point at which markedly diminished returns should be anticipated.”

The brief identifies a number of reasons for concern about further school and district consolidation. Research findings show that larger school and district sizes are associated with reduced rates of student participation, more dangerous school environments, lower graduation rates, and larger achievement gaps along lines of poverty, race and gender.

Impoverished students, moreover, are especially hard hit, the authors write. A strong body of research evidence makes it clear that less affluent communities “often benefit from smaller schools and districts, and they can suffer irreversible damage if consolidation occurs.” In short, “state-level consolidation proposals appear to serve a public relations purpose in times of fiscal crisis, rather than substantive fiscal or educational purposes.”

The authors offer a series of recommendations, including that some especially large schools and districts consider deconsolidation to improve outcomes and achieve efficiencies; that policymakers treat with skepticism claims of widespread benefits of consolidation in cost savings or learning, in light of a large body research showing otherwise; and that even deconsolidation be considered only on a case-by-case basis “with attention to the devilish details that sweeping state policies cannot provide.”

Find Consolidation of Schools and Districts: What the Research Says and What It Means, by Craig Howley, Jerry Johnson, and Jennifer Petrie on the web at:, or click here to download a copy from the Rural Trust library.

The mission of the National Education Policy Center is to produce and disseminate high-quality, peer-reviewed research to inform education policy discussions. We are guided by the belief that the democratic governance of public education is strengthened when policies are based on sound evidence. For more information on NEPC, please visit

This policy/legislative brief was made possible in part by the generous support of the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice (

West Virginia Drug OD Deaths Rose 15% in 2016

The Free Press WV

The number of reported overdose deaths that occurred last year in West Virginia has continued to rise.

According to data just released at least 844 people died in the state of drug overdoses in 2016.

That number is a 15 percent increase over 2015’s tally of 731 drug deaths, West Virginia’s previous all-time high.

Fatal overdoses related to fentanyl, an opioid that’s 100 times stronger than prescription morphine, have fueled a 46 percent increase of overdose deaths in the state in just four years. Drug traffickers often mix fentanyl with heroin.

The West Virginia Health Statistics Center compiles the state’s overdose data from death certificates certified by the chief medical examiner. Additional deaths are expected to be added to the total in the coming weeks.

Does Incarceration Feed the Achievement Gap?

Mass incarceration of African Americans from the war on drugs feeds the achievement gap in U.S. schools, according to a new report.

The study from the Economic Policy Institute found 1-in-4 African American students has a parent who is or has been incarcerated - and an African American child is six times more likely than a white child to have a parent who has been in prison. According to Leila Morsy, senior lecturer at the University of New South Wales and co-author of the report, when parents are sent to prison, their children become more susceptible to depression, behavioral problems and ADHD.

The Free Press WV
A new study suggests the disproportionate number of African Americans behind bars
in West Virginia is feeding the state’s educational achievement gap.
(Prison Policy Initiative)

“Their grade point average drops. They’re also more likely to drop out of school,” Morsy said. “They’re less likely to vote. They’re less likely to trust the government. They’re also less likely to engage in community service.“

African Americans are not more likely to sell or take drugs, but they are much more likely to be arrested and convicted for drug offenses. In recent years, West Virginia has worked to reduce the number of nonviolent offenders behind bars, but during the current legislative session, lawmakers look likely to toughen some drug penalties.

African Americans make up about 3 percent of West Virginia’s population but nearly 30 percent of the inmates in prisons and jails.

Ames Grawert, counsel at the Brennan Center for Justice, said reforming the criminal justice system will improve children’s educational prospects, and not just that.

“Having spent time in prison is significantly worse for someone’s prospects going forward, for the prospects of somebody’s family going forwards than just having been through, say, probation,” Grawert said.

Morsy stressed that sentencing reform and increased educational and employment opportunities for released offenders also would benefit those left behind when a parent goes to jail.

“Improvements in our criminal justice policies will lead to improved outcomes for children,” she said. “It will make teachers’ jobs easier and are very likely to contribute to narrowing the achievement gap.“

In 2014, more than 600,000 inmates nationally were serving sentences of a year or more in state prisons for nonviolent crimes.

~~  Dan Heyman ~~

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