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Good Credit Practices Among Students

The Free Press WV

West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey reminds college students to make wise choices when using credit cards this upcoming school year.

Many take the opportunity to sign up for their first credit card to establish credit and for convenience.

“Credit cards are an easy and convenient method of payment,” Attorney General Morrisey said. “However, it’s important to manage them properly so your financial and credit history isn’t damaged.”

Students who may have difficulty attaining approval based on credit history can open an account with a small limit and pay the balance as soon as possible.

Additionally, co-signers may be necessary for students under 21 and without an income. Becoming an authorized user on a parent’s account is another option. Both provide extra monitoring that reduces the risk of the student accruing unmanageable debt.

Students should use credit cards responsibly and only when necessary, establish a budget, monitor usage, pay the required balance each month and know all expenses and fees.

Also, students should be aware of the fine print and any penalties associated with late or missed payments.

Billing statements should be shredded and card information kept in a secure location.

The Attorney General’s Office issues this advice as part of its fourth annual Off to College Consumer Protection Week.  To learn about consumer protection efforts in West Virginia, visit http://www.ago.wv.gov/consumerprotection.

Anyone with questions should contact the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division at 1-800-368-8808, the Eastern Panhandle Consumer Protection Office in Martinsburg at 304-267-0239 or visit the office online at http://www.wvago.gov.

New School Year Brings Over 400 New and Transfer Students to Buckhannon

The Free Press WV

More than 400 new and transfer students are set to arrive on West Virginia Wesleyan College’s campus on Saturday, August 19 for orientation activities.

Students will arrive on campus August 19 for check-in beginning at 8 a.m. for Orientation. The College will also be hosting its BOOT Camp (Bobcat Outdoor Orientation Trip) activities at Seneca Rocks.  This is the sixth year for the Bobcat Orientation Outdoor Trip.  The trip runs from August 15 to August 17 and includes opportunities for rock climbing, canoeing, hiking, caving, cave floating/swimming, and team building exercises.

During Orientation, students will move in to their new residence halls and participate in numerous campus activities, including the Bobcat Street Fair, which includes over 30 businesses from the Buckhannon area to welcome Wesleyan students to town.  President Joel Thierstein will welcome students and their families at a picnic lunch on the Agnes Howard Lawn from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

The afternoon brings many more activities for students and parents.  Line-up for the New Student Walk will begin at 3 p.m. in front of the Administration Building, and new students will process to opening convocation, which begins at 3 p.m. in Wesley Chapel.  Following the service, families are welcome to join their students for a final campus picnic from 4:30-6 p.m. at the Campus Center Plaza before saying their farewells.

“We are so excited to welcome over 400 new undergraduate students for Orientation 2017,” stated John Waltz ’01, vice president for enrollment management.  “This class hails from 21 states and nine countries and has talents in the arts, athletics, service and leadership, and in many other areas.  They come eager to learn with tremendous academic preparedness.  Fifty-eight percent of the class has a 3.5GPA or higher, and over half of our West Virginia students are Promise Scholars.  I am thankful for the work of the enrollment team and campus community in welcoming this incredible group of students.”

Classes begin Monday, August 21.

For more information, please contact the Office of Admissions at 304.473.8510 or 800.722.9933.

Welcome Back to School and College - Students, Teacher, and Staff - 2017-2018

The Gilmer Free Press
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The Gilmer Free Press
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The Gilmer Free Press

Betsy DeVos’s ‘School Choice’ Is Really Crony Capitalism

The Free Press WV

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos says she supports “great public schools,” but her actions continue to show her hypocrisy on that subject.

Her recent trip to Michigan, her home state, offers yet more proof of the real focus of her leadership – and it isn’t about supporting public schools.


Whose STEM?

During her visit to a Michigan community college, reporters questioned DeVos on her support for public school teacher training and professional development programs.

The school, Grand Rapids Community College, offers an extensive array of education courses to prepare new teachers and help veteran faculty grow their instructional skills. Reporters couldn’t help but point out that President Trump’s budget has proposed massive cuts to teacher training programs, including eliminating $2.4 billion in funding for Title II, the third-largest federal K-12 program in the country.

Nevertheless, DeVos told reporters, “President Trump and I are very big proponents of continuing to support teachers and develop teachers.”

DeVos also pivoted reporters’ questions to talking about her support for the Van Andel Education Institute, which she had visited earlier in the day. The Van Andel Education Institute also provides career development programs for teachers, more specifically on preparing and supporting educators in teaching science, technology, engineering, and math, commonly called STEM education.

Trump’s budget, which DeVos has repeatedly endorsed, proposes huge cuts that would endanger STEM learning in public schools and the training provided by public institutions to support teachers in delivering STEM curricula.

Yet, again, DeVos professed her support for “those kinds of opportunities,” even though the budget she and the president have proposed cuts funding in those areas.


Betsy’s Friends

But here’s a crucial point local reporters didn’t point out: While the community college DeVos visited is a public institution funded primarily by public tax dollars, the Van Andel Institute is a private, nonprofit organization funded principally by friends of Betsy DeVos.

Jay and Betty Van Andel founded the Van Andel Institute after amassing a huge sum of money in creating the Amway corporation with Richard DeVos, Betsy’s father-in-law. “Amway went on to become one of the largest privately held companies in the world, making both of its founders billionaires,” writes a progressive blogger based in Michigan.

So the fact Betsy DeVos would tout the Van Andel Institute at the same time she presides over a federal department that is advocating for deep cuts to teacher training and STEM education should bring up serious questions about her professed allegiance to public education.


Deep Cuts

At the same time private organizations like the Van Andel Institute have been prospering, Michigan has made huge cuts to public institutions like community colleges. In 2011, Michigan lawmakers passed a budget that cut the public institutions most responsible for teacher preparation and career education, community colleges and universities, by 15 percent. Funding levels have never recovered since.

During roughly the same time, enrollments at Michigan community declined 18 percent while the Van Andel Education Institute grew.

DeVos’s preference for private ownership in higher education mirrors her proposals for K-12 schools. The budget she and her boss have proposed essentially cuts direct aid to students, especially those from low-income families, in order to expand the private sector’s financial footprint in education by funding expansions of charter schools and school voucher efforts.


Calling Her Out

This clear favoritism for the private sector prompted American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten to call DeVos “the most ideological anti-public education person to ever be nominated or confirmed to that position.”

Weingarten notes the education budget she and Trump promote is “the worst per-capita budget cuts for kids who are vulnerable or poor that we’ve since Reagan. DeVos also wants the worst budget cuts in raw numbers ever.”

At nearly every turn, DeVos favors private and powerful entities over the public and the least empowered in our society, Weingarten notes, “fighting for the predatory lenders rather than the borrowers in terms of student loan debt,” siding against marginalized students such as transgender children and victims of college campus sexual assaults, and weakening enforcement of federal government anti-discrimination laws in private schools that receive vouchers.

These are all signs of a U.S. secretary of education who just does not get that the federal government’s role in education is about ensuring equitable access to education institutions that guarantee an opportunity to learn.


Betsy’s ‘Real’ Choice

DeVos claims her proposals are intended to provide more “choice” in the education system. If that were true, she would be proposing to raise funding levels for all options. The fact she boosts education options in the private sector at the expense of public options shows her real intention is to tilt the playing field toward the choices she wants – privately owned institutions.

The fact those private options sometimes have personal connections to her family and its fortunes make it look all the more like this isn’t about education at all. It’s about making money.

~~  Jeff Bryant ~~

WVBOE Approves Nutrition Policy for West Virginia Public Schools

January 02, 2018 is the take effect date for a new nutrition policy for West Virginia’s public schools.

The Free Press WV

The state Board of Education approved Policy 4321.1 Standards for School Nutrition as a replacement for a previous nutrition policy dating back to 2008.

In general, it aligns West Virginia’s child nutrition standards with federal child nutrition standards.

In many ways, the policy approval is a formality.

“Our schools have been operating under the Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act since 2012,” Michele Blatt, assistant state superintendent of schools, told members of the state BOE before the vote.

“The Act passed in 2010 and we started transitioning our schools to meet those federal requirements and had all our schools functioning by 2012, but our policy had not caught up with what was occurring in our schools.”

In part, the policy addresses food brought into schools for classroom celebrations or other events.

Under revisions that followed a public comment period, baked goods from home are again allowed in schools if in accordance with local wellness policies which are developed by county school officials.

“When we talk about our current local wellness policy, these are policies that are required by the federal government and all of our districts currently have a local wellness policy,” explained Blatt.

“In that policy, they have to promote student wellness, talk about how they’re going to prevent and reduce childhood obesity and provide assurances that school meals and all other food and beverages sold or provided will meet the applicable federal and state standards.”

Miller Hall, a BOE member, said local control was key. “I think that’s the way it needs to be,” he said.

A portion of the policy revisions prohibit counties from punishing students for unpaid or outstanding school meal debt with denial of meals, blocked access to extracurricular activities, graduation participation bans, refusal of transcript requests or other measures.

“All communication addressing financial matters should be directed to parents/guardians,” the policy stated. “Food and beverages shall not be offered as a reward and/or used as a means of punishment or disciplinary action for any student during the school day.”

More than 400 comments from 180 individuals, a larger number than usual according to state Department of Education officials, were submitted to the DOE prior to the close of the public comment period.

Going forward, Dr. Steve Paine, state superintendent of schools, said the effects of the policy would be monitored. “If it doesn’t work, we come right back and we revisit the policy,” Paine said Thursday.

~~  Shauna Johnson ~~

Final Smarter Balanced Test Results Released

The Free Press WV

West Virginia students are more proficient in English language arts than math, according to results from last spring’s Smarter Balanced Assessment released Wednesday during the state Board of Education meeting.

Math scores improved in grades 4-8 and 11 but students are still testing at about 33 percent proficiency, according to Dr. Lou Maynus, assistant superintendent for teaching and learning.

MORE Read test results here

“For our students in mathematics it is hovering at about one-third, about a third of our children are shown proficient by the results of the Smart Balanced Assessment,” Maynus told school board members.

When looking at the results during a three-year period the math scores have gained in every grade level, Maynus said.

Proficiency in English language arts (ELA) is around 50 percent but most grades didn’t show the gains that math did. Proficiency was 45 percent in grades 3, 6 and 8 to a high of 50 percent in grade 11.

Science proficiency levels were around 39 percent, the numbers showed.

Last spring was the final testing period for Smarter Balanced after the state lawmakers passed a bill to get rid of it. The state School Board is expected to choose a new form of testing later this year.

“We’re in the mist of an RFP (Request for Proposals) right now for grades 3-8 assessment and a grade 11 assessment,” state School Superintendent Doctor Steve Paine told board of education members.

Board member James Wilson said given the controversy about the testing he’s pleased there were some improvements.

“Since everyone knew this was the last year they didn’t’ go in the tank with it,” Wilson said. “People were serious about it.”

Vaughn Rudy, executive director of the Office of Assessment, said West Virginia is not unlike other states where older students continue to have problems with math.

“As students progress through the grade levels the math gets harder for one thing, more challenging questions on the assessment, and we do see it go down,” Rudy said.

Maynus told board members reading and writing continues to be the key to improving test results.

“If a child can learn to read and write and to comprehend they can do mathematics,” she said.

Click HERE to see the Printable results.

~~  Jeff Jenkins ~~

GILMER COUNTY SCHOOLS BUS SCHEDULES 2017-2018

The Free Press WV

GILMER COUNTY SCHOOLS
BUS SCHEDULES
2017-2018

Run times are approximate and subject to change.
All Students need to be at designated bus stop
at least 10 minutes prior to scheduled pick up.

GLENVILLE AREA

#65 Darrel Ramsey
MORNING EVENING
7:05 County Line 3:27 Gilmer Elementary
7:20 Robert’s Service Center 3:37 GCHS
7:35 River Street 3:42 Mineral Road
7:45 Sycamore Road 3:47 Sycamore Road
7:50 Mineral Road 3:57 River Street
7:55 GCHS 4:12 Roberts Service Station
8:05 Gilmer Elementary 4:27 County Line
#69 John Isenhart
MORNING EVENING
7:15 Trace Fork 3:27 Gilmer Elementary
7:25 Tanner School 3:33 Watch Me Grow Daycare
7:37 Mouth of Third Run 3:35 Main Street (Elem. Only)
7:50 GCHS 3:39 GCHS
7:55 Main Street (Elem. Only) 3:55 Mouth of Third Run
7:58 Watch Me Grow Daycare 4:07 Tanner School
8:05 Gilmer Elementary 4:17 Trace Fork
#63 Robbie Bee
MORNING EVENING
6:45 Mouth of Cub Fork 3:27 GCHS
7:04 Turn at Sherwoods 3:37 Gilmer Elementary
7:15 Head of Steer Run (Jim Moss) 3:44 Camden Flats
7:25 Mouth of Steer Run 3:54 Mouth of Cedar Creek
7:27 Normantown 4:04 Normantown
7:37 Mouth of Cedar Creek 4:06 Mouth of Steer Run
7:42 Camden Flats 4:16 Head of Steer Run (Jim Moss)
7:54 Gilmer Elementary 4:27 Turn at Sherwoods
8:04 GCHS 4:46 Mouth of Cub Fork

SAND FORK AREA

#67 Glen Greathouse
MORNING EVENING
7:00 Turkey Fork Turnaround 3:27 GCHS
7:12 Tolar Fork Turnaround 3:37 Gilmer Elementary
7:20 Dusk Camp Turnaround 3:47 Duck Run Turnaround
7:34 Low Gap 3:57 Edna Street
7:40 Edna Street 4:03 Low Gap
7:50 Duck Run Turnaround 4:11 Turkey Fork Turnaround
8:00 Gilmer Elementary 4:23 Tolar Fork Turnaround
8:10 GCHS 4:37 Dusk Camp Turnaround
#66 Susie Kirkpatrick
MORNING EVENING
6:55 Gilmer Straight 3:27 Gilmer Elementary (Load Elementary)
7:00 Copen Turnaround 3:37 Gilmer Elementary (H.S. Transfer #73)
7:18 Sliding Turnaround 3:42 Mud Lick
7:35 Lynch Run Turnaround 3:47 Lynch Run Turnaround
7:40 Mud Lick 4:04 Sliding Turnaround
7:50 Gilmer Elementary 4:22 Copen Turnaround
8:05 GCHS 4:27 Gilmer Straight
#68 Tim White
MORNING EVENING
7:05 Right Fork Ellis 3:27 GCHS
7:20 Ellis 3:35 Gilmer Elementary
7:30 Hub Cab Corner 3:40 VanHorn Drive
7:37 Hacker Run 4:00 Hacker Run
7:57 VanHorn Drive 4:07 Hub Cap Corner
8:02 Gilmer Elementary 4:17 Ellis
8:10 GCHS 4:32 Right Fork Ellis
#62
MORNING EVENING
7:00 Rocky Fork 3:27 GCHS
7:21 Indian Fork 3:30 Main Street (H.S. Only)
7:24 Upper Sand Fork (Bridge) 3:37 Gilmer Elementary
7:30 Mouth of Ellis 4:03 Mouth of Ellis
7:57 Gilmer Elementary 4:10 Upper Sand Fork (Bridge)
8:04 Main Street (H.S.Only) 4:13 Indian Fork
8:07 GCHS 4:34 Rocky Fork

NORMANTOWN AREA

#74 Colin Hartshorn
MORNING EVENING
7:10 Head of Tanner Ck. Rd. 3:27 Gilmer Elementary
7:18 Mouth of Tanner Ck. Rd. 3:37 GCHS
7:30 Stumptown 3:57 Normantown
7:35 Lockney 4:02 Lockney
7:40 Normantown 4:07 Stumptown
8:00 Gilmer Elementary 4:19 Mouth of Tanner Ck. Rd.
8:10 GCHS 4:27 Head of Tanner Ck. Rd.
#75 Dean Baringer
MORNING EVENING
6:55 Cedarville Store 3:27 GCHS
7:06 Leather Bark 3:37 Gilmer Elementary
7:18 Little Bull Run (Turnaround) 3:47 Mouth of Cedar Creek
7:28 Cedar Creek State Park 3:57 Head of Spruce
7:35 Head of Spruce Run 4:04 Cedar Creek State Park
7:45 Mouth of Cedar Creek 4:14 Little Bull (Keysucker’s Turnaround)
7:55 Gilmer Elementary 4:26 Leather Bark
8:05 GCHS 4:37 Cedarville Store
#63 Robbie Bee
MORNING EVENING
6:45 Mouth of Cub Fork 3:27 GCHS
7:04 Turn at Sherwoods 3:37 Gilmer Elementary
7:15 Head of Steer Run (Jim Moss) 3:44 Camden Flats
7:25 Mouth of Steer Run 3:54 Mouth of Cedar Creek
7:27 Normantown 4:04 Normantown
7:37 Mouth of Cedar Creek 4:06 Mouth of Steer Run
7:42 Camden Flats 4:16 Turn at Head of Steer Run (Jim Moss)
7:54 Gilmer Elementary 4:27 Turn at Sherwoods
8:04 GCHS 4:46 Mouth of Cub Fork
#70 Mike Hill
MORNING EVENING
7:07 Mouth of Flat Run 3:27 Gilmer Elementary
7:12 Mouth of Cross Cut 3:37 GCHS
7:17 Mouth of Popular Lick 3:40 Brooklyn
7:23 Steer Run Church 3:46 Mouth of Cedar Creek
7:30 Normantown 3:52 Mouth of Grass Run
7:40 Mouth of Grass Run 3:57 Normantown
7:48 Mouth of Cedar Creek 3:59 Steer Run Church
7:54 Brooklyn 4:06 Mouth of Popular Lick
7:57 GCHS 4:16 Mouth of Cross Cut
8:07 Gilmer Elementary 4:21 Mouth of Flat Run
#60
MORNING EVENING
7:00 Rosedale 3:27 Gilmer Elementary
7:07 Shock 3:37 GCHS
7:16 Aunt Minnie’s Farm 4:05 Mouth of Grass Run
7:21 Intersection Rt. 33 4:12 Intersection Rt. 33
7:32 Mouth of Grass Run 4:15 Aunt Minnie’s Farm
8:00 Gilmer Elementary 4:23 Shock
8:10 GCHS 4:37 Rosedale

TROY AREA

#71 Kelvin Sprouse
MORNING EVENING
6:55 Head of Big Run 3:27 GCHS
7:04 End of Coning’s Straight 3:37 Gilmer Elementary
7:22 Mouth of Hemlock Road 3:45 Dowell (Transfer w/#72)
7:29 Leading Creek Elementary 4:03 Leading Creek Elementary
7:47 Dowell (Transfer w #72) 4:10 Mouth of Hemlock
7:55 Gilmer Elementary 4:28 End of Coning’s Straight
8:05 GCHS 4:37 Head of Big Run
#73 Woody McCullough
MORNING EVENING
6:55 Ellis Run (Newberne) 3:27 GCHS
7:05 Jesse’s Run 3:37 Gilmer Elementary
7:14 Newberne 4:00 Leading Creek Elementary
7:37 Leading Creek Elementary 4:23 Newberne
8:00 Gilmer Elementary 4:32 Jesse’s Run
8:10 GCHS 4:42 Ellis Run (Newberne)
#72 Todd Stewart
MORNING EVENING
6:57 Upper Horn Creek 3:29 Leading Creek Elementary
7:02 Cox’s Mills 3:42 Baldwin Church
7:12 Auburn 3:47 Dowell (Transfer w/ #71)
7:23 Lower Horn Creek 4:11 Lower Horn Creek
7:47 Dowell (Transfer w/ # 71) 4:22 Auburn
7:52 Baldwin Church 4:32 Cox’s Mills
8:05 Leading Creek Elementary 4:37 Upper Horn Creek

Mistakes to Avoid with Your Student Loan Debt

The Free Press WV

Student loan debt can feel like a dark rain cloud hanging over your head.

But, if your debt isn’t included in the $5 billion in student loan debt that may be thrown out due to shoddy paperwork practices, you’ll likely have to bite the bullet and pay it off.

While you’re paying off your debt, it’s important to steer clear of common pitfalls that could make your life harder.

Here are some mistakes to avoid when it comes to paying back your student loan debt:


1. You wait until the end of the grace period to begin making payments

You’ll likely receive a grace period of six months after graduation before you have to start paying back your debt.

Sounds good, right?

Wrong. The grace period is kind of a trap.

“Most student loans begin accruing interest the moment you graduate, and that interest adds up,“ Anna Khayet, head of product marketing for student loan refi at online lending website SoFi, tells Business Insider. “Any payments you can make sooner helps cut down on the capitalizing interest.“


2. You forget about auto pay

“Automatic payments will deduct the amount directly from your checking account, ensuring you don’t incur late fees,“ Khayet says. “And if you set up auto pay on your monthly loan payments, most loan providers will likely give you a 0.25% rate discount.“


3. You don’t strategize

If you have multiple student loans with very different interest rates, the way you pay them off can make a difference in how much interest you pay in the long run.

So it’s important to strategize.

“If you make the largest of your payments on the loans with the highest interest rates, and pay just the monthly minimum payments on the rest of your loans, then you’ll make the biggest dent in what you owe and save the most on the accruing interest,“ she says. “Remember that there are no pre-payment penalties for paying off a loan early on federal loans or on most private loans.“


4. You don’t consolidate federal loans and refinance private loans

If the monthly payments are truly too much for your budget, Khayet recommends looking into whether you’re eligible for an income-based repayment plan. Also, consider consolidating federal loans into a federal direct consolidation loan and refinancing private loans.

“Consolidating both federal and private loans into one private loan can also be an option, but you would then lose some of the protections that come with federal loans,“ she says. “Instead, consider refinancing private loans at a lower interest rate, which doesn’t just simplify the payment process but also saves you money.“


5. You don’t properly prioritize your student loan debt

Khayet says that young people should first and foremost prioritize their organization’s 401(k) match program, to scoop up “free money.“

Next, it’s important to set up an emergency fund that can cover living expenses for at least three months.

After that, your student loan debt should be your next financial priority.

“Although most of us think we’ll pay off student loans in 10 years, many Americans end up taking 20 years to pay off their loans, well into their 40s or 50s,“ she says. “You should prioritize paying off student debt before making other large investments in order to get the most bang for your buck.“

Healthy Meals Help Kids Succeed in School

The Free Press WV

Making healthier choices from all five food groups is a simple and proven way to help children succeed in school.

A growing body of research links nutrition and achievement, meaning that kids who eat well do better in school. The start of the school year is a great time to give children every academic advantage possible by encouraging participation in the school breakfast and lunch program and including nutrition education in the classroom.

School meals provide a convenient and affordable way for families to ensure children have access to healthy food at school. Student participation in school breakfast or lunch programs is associated with improvement in grades, standardized test scores and school attendance.

When specific nutrients missing from students’ diets are increased (nutrients emphasized in school meals via fruits, vegetables and dairy products) academic performance improves. (Bradley, BJ, Greene, AC. Do Health and Education Agencies in the United States Share Responsibility for Academic Achievement and Health? Journal of Adolescent Health, 2013.)

The link between nutrition and academic achievement is so strong that many teachers across West Virginia and the country are adding classroom nutrition education to their lesson plans.

If you still need some convincing on the importance of nutrition education in the classroom, here are five testimonials from teachers. Parents can share this article with their student’s teachers or the school principal to help make this the best school year ever!


5. Students get excited about learning.: “My class gets really excited about it (the nutrition lessons), and it’s such an important part of teaching ‘the whole child!’”


4. Students put nutrition education to the test in real-life situations: “The greatest thing I notice is that the students encourage each other to eat healthier snacks and foods. They flat out tell each other when they are eating poorly!”


3. The benefits of nutrition education reach far beyond the classroom: “I had a student that went above and beyond and prepared a shopping list of healthy meals for her mom to take to the grocery store! I thought it was amazing to see the students who encouraged their family members to eat healthier.”


2. Improve the quality of your students’ education by teaching a topic left out of standard curriculum: “So many students are not aware of the health benefits in foods and how it affects their body. Students are interested and are engaged when we fill out the workbook. Each student strives to improve their results. This program is a win-win situation.”


1. Nutrition lessons provide essential education that can lead to more academic success: “We discuss healthy eating first at recess time. One student used to bring candy every day for snack and after listening to lessons asked his parents to send better snacks for his brain to learn.”

Electronic Certification System Wins National Award

The Free Press WV

A panel of policy experts selected the West Virginia Department of Education’s (WVDE) electronic certification system as one of two winners of the 2017 State Transformation in Action Recognition (STAR) award. The STAR award of the Southern Legislative Conference (SLC) identifies and promotes state government solutions to regional problems, focusing on policy innovations that are creative, impactful, transferable and effective. The announcement was made during SLC’s annual meeting in Biloxi, Mississippi, July 29 - August 02, 2017.

The WVDE created the Electronic Application Processing System in 2015 to provide a better way for teachers to obtain or renew a West Virginia teaching certification. The previous process required teachers to know which of the 43 forms they needed to complete for their certification and required staff to collect multiple approval signatures from institutions of higher education. To standardize and streamline the process, the WVDE developed a secure online system that allowed applicants to complete certification and renewal forms online, submit them for approval, and process credit card payments through the West Virginia Treasurer’s Office.

“The Electronic Application Processing System has reduced the time needed to process an application from weeks to days,” said Robert Hagerman, executive director of the WVDE’s Office of Certification and Professional Preparation. “Applicants are better served as they now receive real-time status updates throughout the approval process.”

During the first year implementation of the new system, more than 8,000 applications were submitted.

“It is an honor and a true testament to the work of the Department to receive such an award,” said West Virginia Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Steven Paine. “Our goal has always been to do what is best for West Virginia students. Helping our teachers by streamlining certification processes allows them to put their focus back in the classroom and champion that goal.”

Established in 1947, the SLC is a member-driven organization comprising presiding officers and key legislators from 15 Southern states, and is the largest of the four regional conferences of The Council of State Governments. The Annual Meeting of the SLC, convened as the focal point and apex of its activities, is the premier public policy forum for Southern state legislatures and the largest regional gathering of legislative members and staff. The SLC is a non-partisan organization located in Atlanta.

STAR applications are reviewed by a panel comprising state legislators, legislative staff and policy experts. For more information on the SLC and the STAR program, visit http://www.slcatlanta.org/index.php.

Public School Start/End Dates for 2017-18 Across the Area

The Free Press WV

Barbour County Schools

First Day of School for Students: Tuesday, August 15

Last Day of School for Students: Wednesday, May 23


Braxton County Schools

First Day of School for Students: Thursday, August 10

Last Day of School for Students: Wednesday, May 16


Calhoun County Schools

First Day of School for Students: Monday, August 14

Last Day of School for Students: Tuesday, May 22


Clay County Schools

First Day of School for Students: Thursday, August 17

Last Day of School for Students: Wednesday, May 30


Doddridge County Schools

First Day of School for Students: Monday, August 14

Last Day of School for Students: Friday, May 25


Gilmer County Schools

First Day of School for Students: Monday, August 14

Last Day of School for Students: Tuesday, May 22


Harrison County Schools

First Day of School for Students: Tuesday, August 15

Last Day of School for Students: Thursday, May 24


Lewis County Schools

First Day of School for Students: Monday, August 14

Last Day of School for Students: Tuesday, May 22


Nicholas County Schools

First Day of School for Students: Monday, August 21

Last Day of School for Students: Friday, May 25


Pleasants County Schools

First Day of School for Students: Thursday, August 17

Last Day of School for Students: Thursday, May 31


Ritchie County Schools

First Day of School for Students: Thursday, August 17

Last Day of School for Students: Thursday, May 31


Roane County Schools

First Day of School for Students: Wednesday, August 16

Last Day of School for Students: Friday, June 01


Tyler County Schools

First Day of School for Students: Thursday, August 17

Last Day of School for Students: Friday, June 01


Webster County Schools

First Day of School for Students: Monday, August 14

Last Day of School for Students: Friday, May 25


Wetzel County Schools

First Day of School for Students: Monday, August 21

Last Day of School for Students: Thursday, June 07


Wirt County Schools

First Day of School for Students: Thursday, August 17

Last Day of School for Students: Friday, June 01


Wood County Schools

First Day of School for Students: Wednesday, August 16

Last Day of School for Students: Friday, June 01

West Virginia’s State ESSA Plan Available for Public Comment

The Free Press WV

The West Virginia Department of Education (WVDE) announced today that a draft of the state’s Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) plan is now available online for review and public comment. The plan will be available until August 30, and the WVDE will submit its final plan to the U.S. Department of Education September 18, 2017.

“Throughout the past several months, the West Virginia Department of Education has taken a transparent and deliberative approach to developing a plan that takes advantage of the flexibility provided under ESSA and supports the development of highly effective schools in the Mountain State,” said West Virginia Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Steven Paine. “We have worked tirelessly with stakeholder groups across the state to develop this plan, but still hope to receive meaningful feedback during this 30-day public comment period.”

ESSA was signed into law in December 2015, replacing the No Child Left Behind Act. The federal legislation represents a shift from broad federal oversight to greater flexibility of primary and secondary education at the state and local levels. ESSA requires all states to develop plans that address standards, assessments, accountability and support for struggling schools.

Individuals are encouraged to visit http://wvde.state.wv.us/essa/review-and-comment.html to read the draft plan and provide feedback.

WV Treasurer’s SMART529 Plan Lauded by College Savings Website

The Free Press WV



SMART529 WV Direct, a college savings plan offered by State Treasurer John Perdue’s office, has attained a “five-cap” ranking from savingforcollege.com, a leading college savings website.

The five-cap designation is the site’s highest rating. The plan also rated fourth in the country for performance in three different year spans.

savingforcollege.com released its list of the top-rated 529 plans based on flexibility, costs, investment performance and additional economic benefits such as tax incentives.

There are 17 plans, including SMART529 WV Direct, that have garnered the five-cap ranking.

The rankings are based on apples-to-apples comparisons of funds’ allocations among stocks, bonds, and short-term investment returns and prices averaged to produce a composite percentile ranking.

“Performance is one of several criteria that families should use when choosing a 529 fund, whose earnings and distributions are tax-free so long as the funds are used for education,” said Bernice Napack, writing for www.ThinkAdvisor.com.

“Fees are another consideration as well as tax treatment. Some plans offer a tax benefit – credit or deduction – for state residents if they invest in that state’s plan; others offer a tax benefit for residents no matter what plan they choose.”

Fees have been declining in savings plans across the country, according to another recent study from savingforcollege.com.

The study found that the mean fees for direct-sold plans, which include expense ratios as well as account maintenance investment management fees, fell 3.7% over the past six months.

The SMART529 WV Direct led this trend with fee reductions implemented this past February. In addition to low fees, SMART529 WV Direct offers several other important advantages.

The plan does not require a minimum starting contribution, does not mandate subsequent contributions of any certain amount, and offers state and federal tax benefits.

State residents may reduce taxable income for state tax purposes, dollar for dollar, based on the annual amount they contribute to a SMART529 WV Direct account.

“Our staff and team of investment consultants routinely review SMART529 funds and suggest changes to ensure there are attractive options for every investor,” Treasurer Perdue said.

SMART529 offers three plans, including WV Direct. In all, SMART529 has attracted approximately 120,000 investors from across the country, 30,000 of whom are state residents.

To open up a SMART529 account, go to www.SMART529.com.

Jim Was Right: New Study Shows WV Schools Rank Terribly

WalletHub ranks WV 49th in public education
The Free Press WV


Governor Jim Justice responded to a study from WalletHub that shows West Virginia at the bottom of the barrel in public education.

During the legislative session, the Governor wanted to increase teacher pay and avoid painful cuts to higher education. However, the Legislature failed to take action and the net result is NO 2% pay raise for teachers and more cuts to West Virginia’s colleges and universities.

“This analysis confirms what the people already know: West Virginia needs a new playbook because all we do is keep pitching 50th,” said Governor Jim Justice. “We’ll always be dead last if we don’t make changes, that’s why I fought so hard for a teacher pay raise so we can fill the 700 vacant teaching positions across the state, but the Legislature killed that plan. I also did everything in my power to stop cuts to higher education, but the Legislature made cuts that were totally unnecessary. If we don’t invest in education we’ll continue to be dead last.”

Justice added, “We are too blooming good to accept this. Our teachers are good people and they work hard, but we are losing them to other states due to low pay. If all the Legislature wants to do is turn their back on students and teachers then West Virginia will stay stuck at the bottom. It’s real simple, if we don’t give our schools the tools to compete then we’ll never improve.”

The Governor challenged the people of West Virginia to ask their Delegates and Senators why we don’t invest in our schools or pay our teachers better.

~~  Governor’s Office ~~


08.03.2017
EducationNewsWest VirginiaPolitics | Government | ElectionState-WV(1) Comments

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~~~ Readers' Comments ~~~

The problem with primary and secondary education in West Virginia isn’t lack of money, it’s cultural rejection of education, grade inflation, lack of enforceable standards, lack of classroom discipline, interfering parents, state Dept. of Education interference, dishonest reporting of educational standards, and the teachers unions.

It’s gonna’ take a long time to fix that.

Sincerely

Pat McGroyne

By Pat McGroyne  on  08.03.2017

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