WV House passes bill to add more student support aides in rural counties

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CHARLESTON, WV (WVNS) — Members of the House of Delegates passed a bill that will help more rural counties recruit and place aides for student support services.

Delegates passed HB 4535 on Wednesday, February 26, 2020. It was sponsored by Del. Christopher Toney (R-Raleigh) and creates four new classifications of aides that can help teachers with students.

“One of the big focuses of the education reform bill that passed last year was putting more professional student support personnel, like social workers and psychologists, into schools to help students who are facing issues,” Delegate Toney said. “While most large counties are able to find these professionals, some of our more rural areas are having difficulty finding people to fill these critical roles. This bill is designed to help those counties find people who can support these students.”

The state legislature allocated an additional $30.5 million in block grants last year to hire more professional student support personnel. This new bill adds additional types of employees who can be hired using that funding.

HB 4535 creates two types of aides: Special Education Classroom Assistant Teacher and Student Behavioral Support Specialist. It also adds more temporary and permanent positions for those two types.

The state Board of Education included creation of these new types of service aides as part of recommendations included in their ReClaimWV initiative, a program created in response to the state’s opioid epidemic that works to address the physical, social-emotional, behavioral, and mental health needs of West Virginia students.

The bill was also sponsored by Delegates Jeff Campbell (D-Greenbrier) Roy Cooper (R-Summers) and House Speaker Roger Hanshaw (R-Clay). It was sent to the WV Senate.

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