(By Delegates Beach, Fleischauer, Kelley,

Manuel, Osborne, Stemple and Williams)

Requesting the Joint Committee on Government and Finance to make a study of the impact of the School Building Authority's economies of scale requirements on community schools.

Whereas, School buildings and children's schooling serve as centers for all communities; and
Whereas, Schools in rural communities serve a multitude of community functions beyond education; and
Whereas, Larger schools require more children to be gathered from larger geographic areas, which in some areas increase already long bus rides even further; and
Whereas, Current school building policies in West Virginia reward the building of larger schools and fail to provide funds for schools which do not meet economy-of-scale size requirements; and
Whereas, Modern technology and both basic and innovative curricula are important for all students; and
Whereas, 440 million dollars has been spent on major school construction by the School Building Authority and we have not yet measured the relationship between these investments and (1) improved academic performance and (2) cost savings; therefore, be it
Resolved by the Legislature of West Virginia:
That the Joint Committee on Government and Finance is hereby requested to review, examine and study the value of smaller schools in the rural counties and the impact on these counties of the school building authority's economies-of-scale requirements with specific emphasis on the following areas of inquiry:
(a) Whether building schools sized to meet school building authority economy-of-scale requirements has saved money for the State of West Virginia;
(b) Whether the school building authority's economy-of-scale requirements match the optimal school sizes as determined through research by education experts;
(c) Whether the building of large schools and the closing of smaller schools has affected dropout rates in rural counties, and if so, the socioeconomic status of children affected;
(d) What is the difference in the dropout rate between smaller schools and larger schools;
(e) Whether school curriculum and student academic performance has been improved by building large schools;
(f) Whether curriculum improvements could be obtained through use of technological innovation such as distance learning, the Internet, interactive video, or other technologies, and if so, whether such curriculum improvement would be economical;
(g) Whether student achievement and participation in extracurricular activities is affected by long bus rides;
(h) Whether smaller schools can be economically designed, save transportation costs, shorten student bus times, use technology to improve curriculum, reduce dropout rates, or otherwise improve the quality of education in rural West Virginia;
(i) Whether most students transported long distances are economically disadvantaged; and
(j) What is the level of serious disciplinary problems in larger schools in comparison to smaller community based schools; and, be it
Further Resolved, That in conducting this study, the Joint Committee on Government and Finance is to solicit information and testimony from independent experts in school financing and school facility costs, and from experts in the economic and social conditions of the rural areas of West Virginia; and, be it
Further Resolved, That the Joint Committee on Government and Finance report to the regular session of the Legislature by DecemberDecember 30, 1999, on its finding, conclusions and recommendation, together with drafts of any legislation necessary to effectuate its recommendations; and, be it
Further Resolved, That the expenses necessary to conduct this study, to prepare a report and to draft necessary legislation be paid from legislative appropriations to the Joint Committee on Government and Finance.