Senate Bill No. 376
(By Senators Tomblin (Mr. President) and Caruth,
By Request of the Executive)
[Introduced February 25, 2009; referred to the Committee on
Education; and then to the Committee on Finance.]
A BILL to amend the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, by
adding thereto a new article, designated §18-5B-1, §18-5B-2,
§18-5B-3, §18-5B-4, §18-5B-5, §18-5B-6, §18-5B-7, §18-5B-8 and
§18-5B-9, all relating to school innovation zones; setting
forth legislative findings, intent and purpose; authorizing
the West Virginia Board of Education to designate school
innovation zones; establishing an application and review
process for innovation zone plans; requiring a system of
accountability for innovation zones; requiring an annual
report by the Board of Education; providing for the waiver of
certain statutes, rules, policies and interpretations;
providing for the voluntary transfer of employees; providing
for teacher job postings that exceed certain qualifications
and requirements; and authorizing the Board of Education to
Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:
That the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, be amended
by adding thereto a new article, designated §18-5B-1, §18-5B-2,
§18-5B-3, §18-5B-4, §18-5B-5, §18-5B-6, §18-5B-7, §18-5B-8 and
§18-5B-9, all to read as follows:
ARTICLE 5B. SCHOOL INNOVATION ZONES ACT.
This article shall be known as the "School Innovation Zones
§18-5B-2. Legislative findings and purpose.
(a) Legislative findings
. -- The Legislature finds and
(1) This state is committed to providing a thorough and
efficient system of public education to West Virginia students;
(2) To that end, the Legislature, the West Virginia Board of
Education and county boards of education have enacted statutes,
rules and policies to ensure that West Virginia students receive a
quality public school education;
(3) Although these statutes, rules and policies were enacted
with the interests of students in mind, individual schools
sometimes require greater flexibility to provide instruction
tailored to the individual needs of their students and communities;
(4) Allowing individual schools to seek and receive waivers of
certain statutes, rules and policies through the creation of school innovation zones will provide greater flexibility and will allow
schools to institute creative and innovative practices that will
facilitate 21st century student achievement; and
(5) School innovation zones will provide schools,
administrators and faculty members more control over important
educational factors that impact student achievement, such as
curriculum, personnel, organization of the school day, organization
of the school year and delivery of educational services.
(b) Intent and purpose
. -- The intent and purpose of this
article is to:
(1) Provide West Virginia schools, principals and teachers
with greater flexibility and control to meet the needs of a diverse
population of students by removing certain policy, rule and
(2) Improve educational performance;
(3) Provide a testing ground for innovative educational reform
programs and initiatives to be applied on an individual level;
(4) Provide information regarding the effects of specific
innovations and policies on student achievement;
(5) Document educational strategies that enhance student
(6) Provide for more accountability for the state's public
schools as measured by student achievement in state assessment
programs and local assessment processes identified by the schools; and
(7) Provide for the establishment of innovation zones.
§18-5B-3. School innovation zones.
(a) The state board shall select schools to be designated as
innovation zones. Schools shall be selected for designation as
innovation zones in accordance with policies adopted by rule of the
(b) The policies developed by the state board shall provide
for an application process and standards for review of innovation
(c) The application process developed by the board shall
encompass at least the following:
(1) The manner, time and process for the submission of a
school's innovation zone application;
(2) The contents of the application; and
(3) Factors to be considered by the state board when
evaluating a school's application, which shall include, but are not
limited to, the following factors:
(A) The level of staff commitment;
(B) Support from parents, students, the county board of
education and the community; and
(C) The potential for a school to be successful as an
(d) The state board shall review a school's application in accordance with the standards adopted by the board and shall
determine whether to designate the school as an innovation zone.
The state board shall notify a school of its determination within
sixty days of receipt of the school's innovation zone application.
§18-5B-4. Innovation zone plans.
(a) Each school designated as an innovation zone in accordance
with this article shall develop an innovation zone plan. The plan
shall be developed in accordance with policies adopted by rule of
the state board.
(b) Innovation zone plans shall contain:
(A) A description of all programs, policies or initiatives the
school intends to implement if the plan is approved in accordance
with section five of this article;
(B) A list of all statutes, state board rules or policies,
including state board and county board policies identified by the
school as prohibiting or constraining the implementation of a
specific plan, program, policy, initiative or innovation the school
plans to adopt; and
(C) Any other information the state board requires.
(c) Each school designated as an innovation zone shall submit
its innovation zone plan to school employees, a county board of
education having jurisdiction over the school, the state board, and
the State Superintendent of Schools in accordance with section five
of this article.
§18-5B-5. Approval of innovation zone plans; waiver of statutes,
policies, rules or interpretations.
(a) Each school designated as an innovation zone shall:
(1) Submit an innovation zone plan developed in accordance
with section four of this article to employees of the school for
review. An innovation zone plan shall be deemed approved if at
least eighty percent of the school's employees vote for the plan's
approval. The state board shall establish by rule a model for
ascertaining the vote of school employees;
(2) Submit an innovation zone plan approved by vote of the
school's employees to the county board of education for review. A
county board shall approve or disapprove of the innovation zone
plan within sixty days of receipt of the plan; and
(3) Submit an innovation zone plan approved by vote of the
school's employees and a county board to the state board and state
superintendent for review. The state board and state
superintendent shall approve or disapprove of the plan within sixty
days of receipt.
(b) Upon the approval of a school's innovation zone plan by
the state board and state superintendent, the rules or policies
listed within the plan are deemed waived.
(c) Following the approval of a school's innovation zone plan
by the state board and state superintendent, a school may request
a waiver of statutes or legislative rules promulgated by the state board. The school shall submit such a request, with supporting
reasons, to the Legislative Oversight Committee for Educational
Accountability, which the committee shall review when determining
whether a recommendation should be made to the Legislature to waive
a statute or rule: Provided,
That the Legislature shall not grant
any waivers that seek exemption from an assessment program
administered by the West Virginia Department of Education or from
any provision of law or policy required by the No Child Left Behind
Act of 2001, Public Law No. 107-110.
(d) The state board shall establish by rule a process for
amending or revising an innovation zone plan: Provided,
amendments or revisions to an innovation zone plan shall be subject
to the approval requirements of subsection (a) of this section.
§18-5B-6. Progress reviews and annual reports.
(a) At least annually, the state board or its designated
committee shall review the progress of the development or
implementation of a school's innovation zone plan. If, following
such a review, the state board determines that a designated school
has not made adequate progress toward developing or implementing
its plan, the board shall submit a report to the school identifying
its areas of concern. The state board or its designated committee
may conduct an additional review within six months of submitting a
report in accordance with this section. If, following such
additional review, the state board or its designated committee determines that the school has not made adequate progress toward
developing or implementing its innovation zone plan, the state
board may revoke the school's designation as an innovation zone or,
if the school's innovation zone plan has been approved in
accordance with section five of this article, rescind its approval
of the plan.
(b) The state board shall provide an annual report on
innovation zones and the progress of innovation zone plans to the
Legislative Oversight Committee for Educational Accountability.
§18-5B-7. Transfer of employees.
A person employed in a school designated as an innovation zone
who votes against the innovation zone plan may request a transfer
to another school in the school district. The county board shall
make every reasonable effort to accommodate the transfer.
§18-5B-8. Teacher vacancies in an innovation zone; job postings
exceeding certain qualifications and requirements;
approval of postings.
(a) A school designated as an innovation zone whose school
innovation zone plan has been approved in accordance with section
five of this article may set forth a job posting for a teacher
vacancy that sets forth standards or qualifications that exceed the
standards and qualifications provided in section seven-a, article
four, chapter eighteen-a of this code: Provided,
That teachers in
the county approve the job posting by majority vote: Provided, however,
That the county superintendent administers the vote and
the record of the vote remains on file in the personnel office of
the county board until the school is no longer designated as an
(b) Upon the initial approval by vote of a job posting, as
described in subsection (a) of this section, future job postings by
the school may set forth the same standards and qualifications
listed in the approved job posting without requiring a vote of
§18-5B-9. Rulemaking authority
To implement the provisions of this article, the state board
shall promulgate rules, including emergency rules, as provided in
article three-b, chapter twenty-nine-a of this code.
NOTE: The purpose of this bill is to establish zones of
educational innovation that allow school employees to
collaboratively devise and implement 21st century school
improvement strategies that are currently restrained and/or
restricted by policies issued by the state board or the West
This article is new; therefore, strike-throughs and
underscoring have been omitted.