The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Latest News

February 8, 2013

Fayette schools excess levy to be decided Saturday

FAYETTEVILLE — Fayette County residents head to the polls Saturday to cast their votes on the continuation of an excess levy that raises 14 percent of the school system’s general operating funds.

Forty-four of 55 counties in West Virginia have an excess schools levy in place for the current fiscal year. They raise an average of $10.2 million in taxes per year for each school system.

Fayette County’s proposed levy would generate approximately $9.3 million per year for five years. The money would be funneled toward 29 programs ranging from science and math support to busing for athletic events.

For residents who live in a home that they own, property would be taxed at 46 cents per $100 of assessed value. Owners of vacant or nonowner-occupied property in the county would pay 92 cents per $100 of assessed value.

The Register-Herald recently posed questions regarding the levy to Fayette County School Assistant Superintendent Dr. Serena Starcher.

The questions were largely generated from reader feedback and correspondence.

1. How specifically will these funds help increase student achievement?

“In addition to the $2,358,000 specified for professional salary support, targeted at recruiting and retaining qualified professional personnel, the proposed excess school levy includes approximately $2.5 million specifically focused on providing resources, materials and supplies to support student learning. The $2.5 million is identified through the following line items: free textbooks, instructional support, special education support, music support, art support, family and consumer science support, industrial arts and career technical education support, business education support, physical development and health education support, science/math support, reading support, 21st century technical curriculum support, and preschool.”

2. How will the money for the “Student Safety and Security” line item be spent?

“Funding for student safety and security will be used to expand the use of a trained and authorized security presence in the district’s schools. Funds will also be used to support the increased hardening of school facilities to resist outside threats and to increase the district’s capacity to monitor facilities and restrict access.”

3. Why is the board asking for $88,000 for science and math support, and almost $200,000 for athletics?

“The current levy provides approximately $72,000 to support the admission of all students to home athletic events. This line item was included to provide all students the opportunity to attend athletic competitions and to support their peers regardless of their ability to pay for admission.

“In recent years, it was determined that all student athletes must be transported via bus to away events as opposed to car-pooling with other teammates. This requirement was instituted to ensure that, while students are under the guidance and supervision of the school system, the school system has taken steps necessary to best ensure their safety. Funding through the levy would support the district’s schools and their athletic programs as they adhere to this requirement.

“While the funding for athletics provides for student admission to athletic events and transport of athletes to events, the line item for science/math support provides resources, supplies and materials to support student learning in the classroom.”

4. What specific projects will receive funding through the “Maintenance and Capital Improvements” line item?

“Given the age of many of the district’s facilities, this line item supports the district’s efforts to continue their operation. Such work includes, but is certainly not limited to, the replacement of aging equipment such as coal-fired boilers, the replacement of failing roof systems, the replacement of insecure doors and windows and the replacement of carpet with floor tile. Funds also provide for general maintenance, upgrades and repairs.”

5. Why aren’t “Free Textbooks” part of the county’s baseline budget?

“School systems in West Virginia are required to provide free textbooks to all students. Given the existence of the excess school levy, levy funds are currently used to provide for free textbooks. Absent an excess school levy, the district would provide textbooks using Step VII funds which are received through the state’s school funding formula. At present, Step VII funds are used to provide for items such as, but not limited to, school counselors for all elementary and middle schools as well as the district’s fairs and field days (i.e., All-County Band, All-County Chorus, Math Field Day, Science Fair, Social Studies Fair, Spelling Bee). Should the excess school levy not exist, those items currently supported with Step VII funds would likely be eliminated.”

6. Why should all parents pay for “Universal Feeding,” free breakfast and lunch for all students?

“Presently, 10 schools in Fayette County meet the guidelines established for the Community Eligibility Option (CEO) program. The CEO program is a national program that permits schools to provide free meal service to all students at no charge, regardless of economic status. While this program is only available in seven states at the present time, by 2014-2015 it will be available to all states. (Should it pass, the proposed excess school levy will go into effect with the beginning of the 2014-2015 school year.) While the provision of free meals to all students requires funding support, the proposed excess school levy would allow Fayette County Schools to participate in this nationally-supported program for 100 percent of its students and schools.”

7. Explain how the nearly $1 million in “21st Century Technical Curriculum Support” will be used.

“Funding for technical curriculum support is used to provide students access to modern technology to support their learning, to provide support to students who need targeted assistance with their learning and to provide support to teachers and students to ensure technical equipment functions properly.”

There were a few questions Starcher did not answer, citing a concern that the answers “would be viewed as persuasive.” She said the school system is not officially permitted to persuade citizens to vote for or against the levy.

These questions asked what measures the board would take to ensure that funding secured through the levy, if it passes, would be administered properly and why should parents whose trust of the school system is broken be willing to support this levy.



Levy Voting Information

Election Day: Saturday, Feb. 9

Polls open: 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.

Voting Locations:

All 39 regular Fayette County voting precincts will be open and operational for the levy vote.

Text Only
Latest News
  • Ex-miner asks Congress for help on black lung

    A retired coal miner who suffers from black lung disease has urged Congress to help clear a backlog of claims of fellow miners who have the disease.

    July 22, 2014

  • W.Va. AG warns job seekers of fake job ad scams

    Attorney General Patrick Morrisey is warning West Virginians about fake job postings and other employment scams online.

    July 22, 2014

  • Ex-state agency worker pleads guilty to fraud

    A former case worker for the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources is facing up to 30 years in prison and a $500,000 fine after pleading guilty to fraud.

    July 22, 2014

  • Saints 1 Greenbrier ready for Saints

    The goal posts are up. The lines are on the field. The closets are stocked with Gatorade and the pads and helmets are hanging in the lockers. INCLUDES TOUT VIDEO.

    July 22, 2014 2 Photos

  • Auto Fair winner Auto Fair attracts 15,000 visitors despite cool weather

    Although Mother Nature fast-forwarded to September temperatures throughout the weekend of the Friends of Coal Auto Fair, thousands of people came out to see the show and support the YMCA of Southern West Virginia.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • W.Va. health officials find clinic reused its needles

    Health officials on Monday advised patients of a West Virginia pain management clinic to be tested for blood-borne infectious diseases after an investigation found that needles had been reused.

    July 22, 2014

  • TWV raises $1,700 for Just For Kids

    Theatre West Virginia provides the southern part of the Mountain State an opportunity to see live, outdoor dramas, but this year, it’s giving back even more.

    July 22, 2014

  • WVDA expanding Hemlock Woolly Adelgid program

    Commissioner of Agriculture Walt Helmick has announced that the West Virginia Department of Agriculture's (WVDA) Hemlock Woolly Adelgid (HWA) Program has expanded to include all counties currently infested with HWA.

    July 21, 2014

  • Two in custody after allegedly beating Whitesville man

    Two men remained in Southern Regional Jail Monday morning after they allegedly beat up another man in his home in Whitesville. The West Virginia State Police would not release the name of the victim, who came to Raleigh General Hospital on his own.

    July 21, 2014

  • Impersonating an officer

    More details emerged Sunday from the Mercer County Sheriff Department’s investigation into a male subject who used a blue, bubble-style dash light to initiate a traffic stop of a female driver Friday night on Route 20 near Athens.

    July 21, 2014