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School Board Adopts $28.5 Million Budget

By Staff | May 5, 2009

The Wetzel County Board of Education May 4 adopted a $28.5 million budget for the 2009-10 school year, up less than one percent from the current year’s operating budget of $28.3 million.

That good news can be deceiving, officials cautioned. School System Treasurer Jeff Lancaster noted that “projected local tax revenue is approximately $350,000 higher because of an increase on assessed property values.”

Most of the school system’s revenue, however, is based on student enrollment, which is projected to be more than 100 fewer students than this year. “Thus,” Lancaster continued, “the increased revenue from higher property assessments will be offset by a loss in aid from the legislature by approximately the same dollar amount.”

Superintendent of Schools Bill Jones also cautioned, “Even with a steady budget, we will have to do more with less, mostly because of pay increases and other rising costs.”

Almost 82 percent of the budget is targeted for salaries and fixed costs, while slightly more than nine percent of the budget will be spent on special projects, school bus replacement, and such expenses as faculty senate and staff development activities.

The greatest portion of budgeted expenditures, $17.7 million, will go for regular, special education, and vocational instructional programs.

On the income side, 59.83 percent of school system revenue will come from state allocations, while 29.31 percent will come from local revenue. Of those figures, slightly more than $1.8 million will come from the state and federal governments to pay for special projects, which account for 6.5 percent of spending.

Jim Buch, president of AK Energy Management LLC, appeared before the board to propose buying most of the school system’s natural gas from a supplier other than Mountaineer Gas to save an estimated $10,000 per year.

Under Buch’s plan, the school system would use existing gas lines and meters to supply two locations each at Magnolia High School and New Martinsville School, at the board offices on Foundry Street in New Martinsville, and at Short Line School.

The proposal would feature a bank into which paid-for but unused natural gas in warmer weather could be “deposited” until it is needed in colder weather.

Buch said if the school system decided not to renew the energy-management contract, for whatever reason, it could be returned to service from Mountaineer Gas seamlessly and without penalty. The board took no immediate action on Buch’s proposal.

The board approved the retirements of Dave Cisar as health and physical education teacher at MHS at the end of the school year-his 39th as an educator.

He will retain his position as the school’s head baseball coach.

The board also accepted the retirement of Hundred High School Principal Sam Snyder, who will leave June 29, in his 31st year. Snyder has been with the Wetzel County School system twice.

He resigned a position in 1998 to join the Marion County School System, only to be re-hired in 2003 as HHS principal.

Resignations were accepted from Pamela S. Blake as countywide substitute aide, John N. Jennings as countywide alternative education instructor, and Michelle A. Swope as 7/8th grade cheerleading coach at Paden City High School.

Blake’s resignation was effective immediately. Jennings’ resignation became effective April 16, and Swope’s on April 23.

The board rescinded its 2009-10 reduction-in-force order for Joe D. Sturgill Jr. and reassigned a number of school system personnel for the next school year. Deborah L. Allen will become second grade teacher at NMS next year and Angelle M. Copeland was reassigned as general music teacher at SLS.

Barbara G. Slider was approved for reassignment as first grade teacher at NMS effective with the 12009-10 school year and Terry L. Steele will become kindergarten teacher at NMS next year.

The board also okayed several other teaching reassignments within their same schools. Paula S. Cumberledge will move from fourth grade to fifth at Long Drain School. At the same facility, Janet M. Tennant will move from first grade to second grade.

At NMS, Sarah L. Yeater will be reassigned to the sixth grade from fourth grade and SLS fifth grade teacher Phillip B. Hulsey was reassigned to teach sixth grade.

Rebecca K. Goff, a fulltime teacher at HHS, also will teach one period of classes at LDS.

The board also approved Joe O. Flesher Jr., Linda L. Neff, and Harold A. Trader for employment as countywide substitute custodians, effective May 5 of this year. Effective the same date, David L. Long was approved as countywide substitute bus operator.

The board voted to re-employ continuing and probationary professional and service staff for next year, including Jeffrey A. Lancaster as school system treasurer.