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### Rucker Aims to Boost Funding as West Virginia Charter Schools Gain National Recognition

MORGANTOWN, West Virginia – The charter school movement in West Virginia is garnering national attention as a noteworthy success story.

On a visit to Morgantown alongside the Yass Foundation to celebrate the acclaimed West Virginia Academy, Jeanne Allen, the Founder and CEO of the Center for Education Reform, highlighted the growing interest from individuals nationwide who are observing, learning, and seeking guidance.

Allen expressed her astonishment at West Virginia’s emergence as a model for educational innovation on a national scale, stating, “It’s remarkable for those operating at the national level to witness this transformation. West Virginia is now setting an example for the entire country—a concept that was previously unimaginable.”

Janine Yass, the founder of the prestigious Yass Prize often likened to the “Pulitzer Prize” of education, along with James Paul, Executive Director of the Professional Charter School Board (PCSB), and Senator Patricia Rucker, R-Jefferson, joined Allen in touring the academy following its impressive performance in a national competition.

Senator Rucker, who championed Senate Bill 47 last year to establish the Charter Schools Stimulus Fund (which remains underfunded), emphasized the need for financial support. While the PCSB received $12.2 million over five years from the U.S. Department of Education through the Expanding Opportunity Through Quality Charter Schools program, these funds are not designated for facility expenses.

“We provide no financial assistance for facilities, unlike public schools that rely on taxpayer funds for infrastructure. It’s crucial that we allocate resources to this starter fund,” remarked Senator Rucker.

Yass, after visiting the school in Morgantown, interacting with school leaders, and observing classroom activities, advocated for promoting choice and autonomy in education universally.

“Institutions like the West Virginia Academy exemplify what is achievable, prompting policymakers and voters to acknowledge the importance of investing more in enabling students to choose their educational path,” Yass affirmed.

Allen underscored the pivotal role played by the West Virginia Academy and other charter schools in the state, including virtual academies, in showcasing the effective utilization of taxpayer funds to support educational choices. With the passage of House Bill 2012 in 2021, allowing 90 percent of funding to trail students to charter schools, the focus for the future, as Allen emphasized, is to ensure that every dollar allocated to a student’s education follows them to their chosen school.

Looking at the virtual charter schools in the state, they stand in stark contrast to the emergency remote learning environment necessitated by the pandemic. These virtual academies offer interactive experiences, forge partnerships with higher education institutions, enable student participation in sports and field trips, and maintain stringent adherence to state standards for academic progress.

James Paul highlighted the rigorous assessments administered to virtual students, which are akin to those undertaken by students in traditional public schools, with results being publicly accessible. He emphasized that the challenges faced are no different from those encountered by county school systems with diverse student populations across multiple sites.