- Associated Press - Friday, March 7, 2014

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - A bill aimed at protecting teacher planning periods in West Virginia passed the House of Delegates Friday, but the changes made to the legislation were not approved by the Senate.

The bill allows teachers to decide how to use their allotted planning time and prevents administrators from forcing them to attend meetings or perform other duties, including parent-teacher conferences.

Del. Paul Espinosa, R-Jefferson, worried that meeting planning period requirements for teachers would cost money county boards can’t afford, for things such as hiring additional teachers. He said he wonders if the bill is simply an unfunded mandate.

Del. Mary Polling, D-Barbour, said the bill does make schools comply with current law, but that good teacher planning is worth a very small percentage of county budgets.

Espinosa said State Superintendent of Schools Jim Phares has indicated that joint planning and collaboration between teachers is one of the most significant resources for teachers. He asked if this bill would allow for collaboration.

Polling said there is no current legislation that guarantees time for collaboration, but teacher planning periods often do not allow for collaboration. She said often teachers do not have overlapping planning periods.

Espinosa also asked if special education teachers could be required to attend individualized education program meetings with parents during their planning period.

Polling said, under the bill, teachers may use their planning period as they wish and may choose to attend meetings. She said time there is also time outside planning periods for teachers to meet with parents.

The bill will now be dropped or sent to conference committee.

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