CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- West Virginia's 55 county school boards are hiring more administrators and handing them hefty pay raises, while cutting teachers, according to the state's largest teachers union.
Over the past decade, the number of non-teaching professionals, including central office administrators, has increased by more than 1,000. At the same time, the number of classroom teachers dropped by 1,200, according to data compiled by the American Federation of Teachers-West Virginia.
What's more, the average county school superintendent salary has jumped by 50 percent, according to the union.
"The money is not getting to the classroom," said Judy Hale, president of AFT-West Virginia, "but rather to employees who do not work with children on a daily basis."
The AFT released the statewide data to bolster their assertion that Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin's sprawling education reform bill (SB359) should include measures to curb the state's "bloated [education] bureaucracy" and "top heaviness."
The Senate Education Committee plans to vote on a revised version of Tomblin's bill this afternoon. The AFT and West Virginia Education Association say the bill penalizes teachers and won't increase student achievement.
Hale said the governor's office has made concessions, but major sticking points, such as changes to teacher hiring practices, remain in the legislation.
"We have made some progress, but the big issues are still on the table," Hale said after a news conference Wednesday at the state Capitol.
A statewide education efficiency audit released last year recommended a host of changes to save money and improve student achievement in West Virginia's elementary, middle and high schools. Tomblin's bill incorporates many of the audit's suggestions.
But, Hale said, the legislation ignores audit recommendations that spotlight the state's swelling school administrative ranks.