WV Senate Approves Plan Designed to Streamline Hiring of School Support Staff

WV Senate Approves Plan Designed to Streamline Hiring of School
Support Staff

on February 22, 2024

West Virginia Press Association Staff Report

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – The Senate, on Wednesday, approved SB 727 – a bill intended to streamline the process of hiring school support staff. 

Introduced by lead sponsor Sen. Amy Grady, R-Mason, SB 727 seeks to “revise the process for county boards of education to hire aides, early childhood classroom assistant teachers (ECCAT), and secretaries, and aligns the process with the current hiring of professional staff.”

As explained by Grady, “In the case of those positions, a county board is required to give the principal at the school at which the majority of duties would be performed an opportunity to interview all qualified applicants, and make recommendations to the county superintendent.”

According to Grady, the school’s faculty senate would also be granted the opportunity to interview prospective candidates. The faculty senate would be required to include one staff service person in their interview process.

“Decisions affecting promotions, or filling of the aide or ECCAT positions are required to be made on the basis of seniority, qualifications, evaluation of past service, the recommendation of the principal, the recommendation as a result of the process established by the faculty senate, and whether the applicant is an aide or an ECCAT, with a preference for ECCATs over aides,” Grady added. 

All criteria will be weighted equally during the hiring process, Grady noted. However, the opinions of the principal and the faculty senate will be double-weighted. In the event that the faculty senate, principal, and superintendent concur on a particular candidate, the board would be required to hire that candidate. 

At the conclusion of Grady’s explanation, Sen. Charles Trump, R-Morgan, referenced emails he has been receiving, saying, “There seems to be some belief that this bill will change seniority rights for other service personnel – bus drivers, cooks, or janitors – is that true?”

“No Sir,” replied Grady. “It only affects aides and ECCATs.”

Sen. Mike Caputo, D-Marion, then requested additional clarification, asking, “This will apply to all aides, even transportation aides, correct?”

After Grady confirmed that the bill would apply to all aides, Caputo inquired as to the need for “double-weighting” the opinions of the principal and faculty senate.

According to Grady, that is the process that has historically been used when hiring teachers, and the change was made, in part, to establish uniformity. 

“The classroom aides are involved in the instructional-process,” Grady explained. “They’re working directly alongside the teacher to provide instruction to the students.”

Among Caputo’s primary concerns, he said, was the potential exclusion of county boards from the hiring process. 

“The bill says that if the principal and the faculty senate agree on an applicant, and the superintendent concurs, the board must hire that applicant,” Caputo said. “So the hiring process is finalized if those three agree, is that correct?”

“Yes,” replied Grady. “That’s the same way we do it with classroom teachers, so that was the intent.”

Speaking in support of the bill was co-sponsor Sen. Robert Plymale, D-Wayne, who referred to the approval of a school principal, faculty senate, and superintendent as the “gold standard” for hiring practices. 

“If it doesn’t work in a couple years, we’ll come back and change it,” Plymale said. “But I think it’s time to let this happen – particularly in the specific cases that are outlined by the education chair (Grady).”

The Senate passed SB 727 by a vote of 31 to three. Caputo, as well as Sen. Laura Chapman, R-Ohio, and Sen. Bill Hamilton, R-Upshur, voted against passage. The bill will now be referred to the House of Delegates for further consideration.