CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The West Virginia Education Association has planned a series of forums across the state to discuss an efficiency audit of the state's education system.
The seven forums follow eight conducted over the summer by non-profit Vision Shared in conjunction with Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin's office and the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce.
The WVEA, the largest teacher's union in the state, believes it is necessary to host its own forums because it believes more input from teachers and school employees is needed, said union spokesperson Kym Randolph.
"They're the people going in every day. They know what's going on better than the business leaders in the classrooms," Randolph said.
In January, Public Works LLC released the findings from an audit of the state education system. The report, commissioned by Tomblin at a cost of $750,000, has more than 50 recommendations that Public Works believes could save $115 million over five years while helping the system run more efficiently.
The WVEA forums will focus on the aspect of the audit concerning teachers, Randolph said.
The audit covers potential savings from more energy-efficient buildings and "right-sizing" the Department of Education but also discuss changes to teacher hiring practices and professional development.
The forums also are a chance for educators to talk about ideas they believe will affect positive change, something Randolph said was missing from the audit itself and previous forums.
"They forgot the people who do the work," Randolph said.
Stone Strategies will run the WVEA forums. The company also ran the Vision Shared forums, and Randolph said this would help them lead discussions and provide context in the report to be generated after the forums are complete.
The report, which Stone Strategies pledged to complete by January 2013, will not necessarily reflect the views of the WVEA, Randolph said.