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WCEA Supports Levy Passage

By Staff | Dec 13, 2017

Photo by Lauren Matthews Pictured are local scouts who had the honors of reciting the Pledge of Allegiance at the Dec. 6 meeting of the Wetzel County Board of Education. Pictured are Assistant Scoutmaster Dan Comstock, Jason Headley, Teran Malone, and Brandon Comstock.

At the regular Dec. 6 meeting of the Wetzel County Board of Education, Elliott Kendle, of the Wetzel County Education Association, pledged the WCEA’s endorsement of the school excess levy renewal.

Early voting for the measure was from Dec. 1 through Dec. 12. Voters can also voice their opinions at the polls this Friday, Dec. 15.

According to Wetzel County Schools’ officials, the only change in the levy is in the property values; the rates remain the same. Class I property is 22.95 cents per $100 worth of valuation; for Class II property, 45.9 cents; and for Class III and Class IV properties, 91.8 cents. Estimated annual revenues, less allowances for exonerations, discounts, and delinquent taxes total $15,470,146.

School officials stress that the excess levy will not increase the tax rates for Wetzel County citizens.

Previously, Treasurer Jeff Lancaster noted the importance of the levy when citing the decrease in assessed property values. He further expressed his concerns at the Dec. 6 board meeting.

Lancaster said Superintendent Ed Toman had forwarded board members an e-mail showing communications with the county assessor.

“It is bad news for us financially,” Lancaster said.

Lancaster explained to the board the expectation of assessed property values to drop.

“A lot of that has to do with low gas prices. Pipelines are not quite ready yet, he explained.

“We don’t think this is a trend. We expect a rebound, but right now, we are coming up on a budget work session. We ned to talk about what we need to do with carryover funds. There are $7 million worth of requests with $2 million worth of money. We have a tough decision to decide what to do. I think it is prudent to cover the hole we are expecting next year.”

“We have been very good about setting aside surplus finds in one year, to cover for the next year,” Lancaster said.

Lancaster previously reported that WCS lost $2.8 million in funding for Fiscal Year 2018, due to a decrease in assessed property values. The school system is expected to lose, around the same amount, for Fiscal Year 2019.

In the meantime, school officials have previously cited several WCS projects that have been accomplished thanks to the county’s continued support of the excess levy. These include the continual community schools, competitive salaries/benefits with neighboring counties (to help fill WCS vacancies), Short Line School’s music room, Magnolia High School’s meats lab, Paden City High School’s classroom renovations, Hundred High School’s greenhouse, and New Martinsville School’s playground.

Furthermore, levy support has attributed to security upgrades – including shatter-proof glass and lock-down capabilities – at all schools.

Levy funds have also supported WCS’s 1:1 technology initiative – allowing each student to have a laptop or similar device. Furthermore, levy funds have supported upgrades in infrastructure, required to support the technology initiative.

Levy funds have allowed the implementation of nurses in every attendance area, along with the implementation of two social workers.

A passage of the school excess levy on Dec. 15 would also bring funds toward the school’s ACT/SAT preparation and incentive plan, which the board passed on Dec. 6. This plan will provide test preparation courses to all students, and will provide book scholarships to successful completers of the course, with qualifying scores.

Board President Warren Grace described the measure as “a game changer.”