CHARLESTON \u2014\u00a0<\/strong>Members of the House Finance Committee rallied this morning and voted for a House Education version of a broad-ranging schools bill.\r\n\r\nThat means the full House of Delegates could get the bill as soon as today, with amendments being offered on the floor as soon as Wednesday. That timeline is not a certainty.\r\n\r\nThe House Finance Committee voted 17-8 in favor of the bill today. There are 15 Republicans on the committee\u2019s majority. Two Democrats \u2014 Mick Bates and Jason Barrett, the committee\u2019s two minority chairmen \u2014 voted with them.\r\n\r\nThe vote happened about 7:45 a.m. today in a fresh meeting. That followed a full Monday of activity that ended at midnight.\r\n\r\nDuring the\u00a0<a href="http:\/\/wvmetronews.com\/2019\/02\/12\/house-finance-moves-its-own-education-bill-and-then-votes-it-down\/">midnight meeting<\/a>, the committee voted down a House Finance version, 13-12. Republicans Bill Anderson, Erikka Storch and Steve Westfall voted with the Democrats.\r\n\r\n\u201cI was a little disappointed that we did not get our House Finance strike-and-insert out,\u201d said House Finance Chairman Eric Householder, R-Berkeley.\r\n\r\nThe 125-page bill that would make a variety of changes to West Virginia\u2019s school system. It would bundle long-promised pay raises with charter schools, a change to authority over local school levies, banking of unused personal days and more.\r\n\r\nThere were a couple of key differences between the versions.\r\n\r\nThe\u00a0<a href="https:\/\/www.documentcloud.org\/documents\/5735255-SB451-DRAFT-House-Finance-Amendment.html">House Education Committee version<\/a>\u00a0had whittled the number of charter schools down to two in a pilot program. The House Finance Committee had that number at five, with the possibility of a sixth.\r\n\r\nThe House Education version had removed education savings accounts, money set aside for educational use when students move from public school to private education. The House Finance version revived that provision.\r\n\r\nHouseholder said he preferred the version his own committee produced. He suggested Republicans will offer amendments on the House floor to restore more charters and education savings accounts.\r\n\r\n\u201cObviously, I\u2019m in it to win,\u201d he said this morning. \u201cI wanted to make sure our House Finance Committee presented its best work.\u201d\r\n\r\nRepublicans on the committee caucused privately prior to the midnight vote. Coming out of that meeting, Householder thought he had the votes to pass the House Finance version.\r\n\r\n\u201cIt was close. We had the votes to pass it,\u201d he said.\r\n\r\nBut back in open committee, members discussed whether voting down the House Finance version would lead to consideration of the House Education version.\r\n\r\nHouseholder concluded that conversation led to Republicans losing a vote.\r\n\r\n\u201cWe all know what happened,\u201d he said today. \u201cIt was defeated, which left us with the House Education strike-and-insert.\u201d\r\n\r\nThis morning, Householder asked Republicans to caucus again in his office prior to the 7 a.m. Finance meeting.\r\n\r\n\u201cI decided the best course of action was to get a bill moving, and that position right now was just the House Education strike-and-insert,\u201d he said. \u201cKeep in mind, the fight is not over. We will still be able to amend this bill on second reading.\u201d\r\n\r\nHe suggested Republicans will offer amendments aiming to increase the number of charter schools and to include education savings accounts.\r\n\r\nHis own preference goes beyond that. Householder said he prefers unlimited charter schools and unlimited education savings accounts.\r\n\r\n\u201cMy gut feeling tells me there will be members who will make amendments to that,\u201d he said.\r\n\r\nThe committee\u2019s vice chairman, Vernon Criss, said he\u2019s fine with the bill.\r\n\r\n\u201cI think so,\u201d said Criss, R-Wood. \u201cWe\u2019ve tried to add some innovations in there to allow more flexibility for the school room teachers and to try to help parents with their decisions on what they want to do about their children\u2019s educations.\r\n\r\n\u201cThose types of things, overall, I think it will help. And obviously trying to help with the governor\u2019s pay raise. So it\u2019s all in there and we\u2019ll see what we can do.\u201d\r\n\r\nOne of the Democrats on Finance Committee, John Williams, said the bill has not changed enough for him to vote for it. He voted against it in committee.\r\n\r\n\u201cAs long as there\u2019s charter schools in there, it\u2019s not something that I can support,\u201d said Williams, D-Monongalia.\r\n\r\n\u201cIt\u2019s got good things like the teachers pay raise, but as long as the charter schools are in there, I can\u2019t support it.\u201d\r\n\r\nHe said that\u2019s the case, even with the number of charter schools capped at two in a pilot program.\r\n\r\n\u201cI just still am afraid of the road that would take us down. It starts at two and then who knows where we are in a few years.\u201d\r\n\r\nWhile Republicans may offer floor amendments to increase the number of charter schools, Democrats may offer amendments to remove the possibility.\r\n\r\n\u201cI don\u2019t know of any official plans, but that wouldn\u2019t surprise me one bit, no,\u201d Williams said.