Wetzel County Schools Treasurer Jeff Lancaster announced to the Board of Education last night that Wetzel County Schools "is in a very good position."
At the close of the 2012-2013 fiscal year, the schools' ending fund balance stood at $4.5 million. This was an increase of $1.3 million in comparison with the prior year.
Lancaster stated the $1.3 million increase for Wetzel County Schools can be attributed to a few different factors-one being the oil and gas industry hitting Wetzel County.
The increase in the budget can also be attributed to the retirement of several experienced teachers. "You lose out on a lot of good things, experience and knowledge, but what you are usually doing is replacing someone with 30 years of experience and a master's degree with someone with a bachelor's degree and much less experience on the pay scale. Our salary cost is going down even though we've increased in number. We've put back a lot of those positions that were RIFed, but the overall cost is going down."
Lancaster also stated that property taxes have increased by $660,000 as a result of an increase in assessed values. "We've talked about it before. If you didn't have an excess levy, this increase in oil and gas would be almost negligible since the state aid funding formula incorporates a local share of taxes, reducing state aid payments by the increase in taxes. But the excess levy is not affected by the local share reduction."
Lancaster said he and Superintendent Dennis Albright would be bringing a list of items for the board to discuss as possible uses for the surplus funds.
"Some of it, we've already done. We've been able to do a lot of good things for the school system. We talked about the additions of guidance counselors and school nurses. We are updating our school bus fleet. We are in the planning stages of a major window project where every elementary school will be getting window replacements which not only will improve our heating/cooling efficiency, they will incorporate safety features for our students.
"There are lots of positive things we are doing in the county."
Lancaster stressed it would be the board's decision as to what is done with the extra money.