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Delegates advance one bill and pause another

The House of Delegates Friday dealt with two bills meant to assure West Virginia’s youngest students have the support they need to succeed.

Delegates delayed action on a bill meant to make sure third graders have the resources to be prepared to move on to the fourth grade. The House may take up consideration of the bill again early next week.

Meanwhile, a key House committee advanced a bill that would put teaching assistants into more first-grade classrooms.

Delegates said such bills are crucial to ensuring students in early grade levels are prepared to advance.

Friday morning, the House Finance Committee advanced a scaled-down version of a bill meant to add assistants to early-grade classrooms.

An original version of the bill would have added assistants to most first- and second-grade classrooms in West Virginia. That concept was a priority for House Speaker Roger Hanshaw, R-Clay, before the legislative session began. He said the assistants could help more early-grade students be well-grounded before moving on in school.

The latest version of the bill reels that back to a pilot program covering about 300 first-grade classrooms. The program also has a sunset provision of three years.

Delegate Joe Statler, R-Monongalia, the vice chairman of the House Education Committee, said he was sorry the concept was being scaled back but hoped it would be shown to work over the three years, encouraging its expansion.

“I would hope that in the future we just keep looking to find additional monies and adding on to this project,” Statler said.

Delegate John Hardy, R-Berkeley, also expressed support.

“Although it would be nice to see this fully implemented, I think the fiscally responsible way — and also a way to make sure we get this past both houses — this is a good compromise.”

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