The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

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November 1, 2013

Board president urges parents to attend hearings on bond, levy call

BECKLEY — Raleigh County Board of Education President Rick Snuffer on Thursday urged every parent in the county to attend public hearings concerning an upcoming bond and levy call.

The bond will support facilities, while the levy — which is already in effect in the county and needs voter permission to continue — will support sports, free textbooks, technology, administration and other instructional necessities.

Snuffer explained that board members have held two public hearings on the levy and bond issues and that they had canvassed the entire county for volunteers to serve on subcommittees prior to the public hearings.

The subcommittees were formed from a group of volunteers. They were not appointed by Raleigh School Superintendent Jim Brown as earlier reported, he said.  

Those subcommittees will make recommendations to the Board of Education on issues related to where bond and levy monies should be directed.

“We want to reassure all the people, in all the school districts, that we’re looking at the total picture and that no decision has been made by the board on any school closure, any combination of anything at this point,” he said. “We’re taking public input, and we still welcome public input.

“When it comes to the final call, the board will weigh all of those options and put out a bond call. We’re a long way from having a bond call that emphasizes the closure of anything,” he stressed.

Parents in the Stratton Elementary School district expressed alarm when bond subcommittee members reported that one option involved closing Stratton Elementary and busing students to an expanded site at Beckley Elementary School.

Snuffer said that board members want parents to attend the public hearings and that the BOE has not considered the closing of Stratton.

Bond members are expected to make their final report to the BOE at the Nov. 12 regular board meeting, which is public.

“We have limited resources and great needs,” he said. “So what we have to do is weigh those options on how we can take the limited funds we’ll be able to obtain through a bond and focus on the highest priority needs, because we can’t address them all,” he said. “In that process, we’re not going to discriminate against any children anywhere. Everyone will be treated as fair as they can.”

Snuffer said that the options of building a new Stratton at the current site or building a new Stratton at the Beckley site are as viable as the option to bus students to Beckley Elementary at this point in the process.

“There’s only so much money,” he said. “At the end of the day, we’ll have to do the best we can with the dollars we have.”

— E-mail: jfarrish@register-herald.com

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