West Virginia Governor Calls for Review of State Education Spending

Last Updated: September 28, 2010

This article appeared in the September 2010 Rural Policy Matters.

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A West Virginia task force initially charged with moving forward education reforms related to the federal Race to the Top (RTTT) grant requirements has called for bids for an outside firm to conduct an audit of education funding to look for “redundancies and duplications of effort.”

The 10-member task force was appointed by Governor Joe Manchin after his attempts to put into place a charter school law and make other policy changes required by RTTT failed to move forward in the legislature.

The task force is comprised of House and Senate members as well as representatives of major education organizations in the state. It met during the spring and summer, but was largely unsuccessful in bringing about the policy changes necessary for West Virginia to compete for RTTT funds. Legislative work on education was interrupted, in part, by the process of replacing the late Senator Robert Byrd who died earlier in the summer.

The audit will happen soon because the task force and Governor have opted to have firms make an “expression of interest” in the work rather than using the more time-consuming request-for-proposal process. Members anticipate this approach will make the audit available for use during the legislative session in January.

West Virginia ranks 16th in the nation in per-pupil spending. Manchin has cited this fact in discussing the audit, and some members of the task force have said that the state may not be getting value from education spending. Teacher unions and others have noted and questioned an increase in the number of non-teaching personnel hired by districts. At least one legislator has called for setting a system of accountability for the audit’s results before they are released.

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Local coverage on the task force and audit:

Coverage on WV and RTTT:

Read more from the September 2010 Rural Policy Matters.