CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- House Speaker Rick Thompson, D-Wayne, has assigned a bipartisan group of delegates to become the experts on the governor's sweeping education efficiency audit of West Virginia's public schools.
Thompson on Thursday announced the nine-member panel, known as the Education Audit Work Group, and said the group will delve into the audit so the Legislature could "hit the ground running" when responding to its numerous recommendations. Many of its proposals require changes to state code.
"The education system in West Virginia is on the brink of an overhaul, and it is important that all members of the House of Delegates are up to date and knowledgeable of what the audit recommends and what is needed to improve upon our education environment here in the state," Thompson said in a news release.
Thompson wants the group to "obtain as much information as possible" about the recommendations for the state's school system outlined in the $750,000 audit, which was conducted last year by Pennsylvania firm Public Works LLC at Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin's request.
The group will become a resource for other legislators so that they can begin to "build common ground," Thompson said.
"I want this work group to have the time to hold discussions with every stakeholder to gain a full understanding of what changes are needed to make West Virginia's school system among the best in the country," he said.
The intended goal of the audit is to receive the best-possible return on education dollars to increase student achievement, create a more student-centered system and eliminate "excess bureaucracy."
West Virginia has spent more on primary and secondary education in recent years than most states -- $3.5 billion in 2010 -- but is not reaping the benefits, with students ranking lower than the national average in many categories, according to the audit.
State Board of Education President Wade Linger said he's glad the audit is getting the attention he believes it deserves.