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EDUCATION LEGISLATION TO ADDRESS CURRICULM COURSES OF STUDY STALLED IN COMMITTEE

Published: Aug 6, 2021

St. Croix–The Committee on Education and Workforce Development, chaired by Senator Genevieve R. Whitaker, met Wednesday in the Frits E. Lawaetz Legislative Conference Room, on St. Croix.
The first item on the day’s agenda was Bill No. 34-0091, which is an Act seeking to amend the Virgin Islands Code relating to the courses of study in public schools and to address gaps in the education curriculum and workforce development and by adding home economics, equine studies, information technology and creating a reporting mechanism for the development and implementation of the curriculum. Senator Whitaker sponsored the measures
Carol Callwood, President, St. Thomas/St. John Federation of Teachers said the Bill is a good concept as they attempt to increase the courses offered to the students on their educational path.
She added that some of the recommended courses in the Bill are already offered. Presently, some legislative mandates for education have not been implemented due to a lack of resources.
On Bill No.34-0092, An Act seeking to amend the Virgin Islands Code relating to courses of study in public schools and to establish a marine and environmental education course. According to Callwood on both Bill No.340091 and 34-0092, “we must also understand that increasing curriculum offering requires increasing staffing for these classes.”
Jennifer Valiulis, Executive Director, St. Croix Environmental Association, said Bill No. 34-0092 provides environmental education to develop confidence for students to investigate and solve local problems. She added that the workforce development aspect of environmental education is a strong need for diversification of the economy for long-term stability.
Dr. Stephanie Berry, Executive Director VI Board of Education, said on behalf of Kyza Callwood, Chairman, VI Board of Education, the Board supports the idea of an opportunity for students in kindergarten through 12th grades. She added that this allows them to explore environmental issues within their communities, discuss possible ways to address them, and engage in appropriate activities for their grade level that supports improving challenges.
Pamela New, the Eco-School Coordinator, said that environmental education remains largely a patchwork of independently implemented programs and activities despite many positive efforts. She added that these efforts could not provide the territory-wide momentum and feasibility needed to promote sustained ocean education for all students.
Both Bill No.34-0091 and Bill No.34-0092 were voted by the Committee to be tabled.
Bill No.34-0050, which Senator Steven Payne, Sr, sponsors, seeks to amend the Virgin Islands Code by adding a section codifying the requirements for high school students to perform community service as a prerequisite for graduation and appealing Act N0.6233
The Bill was removed from the Agenda by the sponsor due to the Commissioner of Education stating that she could not attend the hearing.
Bill No.34-0094 An Act amending the Virgin Islands Code to establish and mandate stakeholder engagement and participation in the development of a report for the annual assessment and evaluation of all public-schools’ facilities and adding a subsection to require stakeholders to hold town hall meetings on St. Croix, St. Thomas, and St. John.
Bill No.34-0053 An Act amending the Virgin Code to establish the Emergency Medical Services Program and adding a section to install the Emergency Medical Services High School Program Fund and making a $160,000 appropriation from the Centennial Special Fund to the Department of Education to fund the Emergency Medical Services basic EMS education program.
Senator Kenneth Gittens sponsored the measure. The Bill was voted out of the Committee and sent to the Committee of Rules and Judiciary for further consideration.
Bill No.34-0093-An Act amending the Virgin Islands code relating to the courses of study in public schools to establish a Spanish language course. Senator Genevieve Whitaker sponsored the measure.
Committee members opted to table the Bill, pending further scrutiny.
Senators at Wednesday’s meeting were Chairwoman Genevieve R. Whitaker, Kurt A. Vialet, Carla J. Joseph, Kenneth L. Gittens, and Donna A. Frett-Gregory.

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