The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

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November 3, 2013

Wyoming’s excess levy passes easily

— Wyoming County’s excess levy passed by an overwhelming majority, with a very low turnout, according to Mike Goode, county clerk.

Only 822 people turned out to vote in the special election Saturday.

With 36 of 36 precincts reporting, 726 voted in favor of the levy, while only 96 voted against it, Goode said.

“We’re extremely happy the levy has been approved again by our county residents,” said Frank Blackwell, county schools superintendent.

“We’ll use these funds to continue to support and improve the educational offerings for our students.”

The levy has been approved by county residents every five years since 1933, according to Blackwell.

More commonly known as the free textbook levy, this levy will generate $7.78 million for the school system over the next five years.

The excess levy is added to the regular tax levy residents pay on personal property and is used to fund improvements and supplements to the county school system, including textbooks and materials for students.

“The excess levy is the lifeblood of the school system,” Blackwell said prior to the election. “It allows us to hire additional teachers and other personnel. It funds all our extras — athletics, libraries, after-school programs.”

The rate — set by the county board of education — remains at 22.95 cents per $100 of assessed property value for Class I property; 45.90 cents on Class II property; 91.80 cents for Class III; and 91.80 cents for Class VI property.

The levy will also provide money to improve computer labs and school libraries, Blackwell explained, as well as add equipment to improve safety for students and staff.

“We will install a telephone land line, at every school, that works even when the power is off,” Blackwell said. “Some of our schools have systems that, when the power goes off, the phones do too.”

Additionally, security cameras will be installed on every bus and in all schools.

“Cameras solve all kinds of problems,” Blackwell emphasized.

“Cameras also prevent a lot of problems. People, who know they are on camera, will think twice before doing something they shouldn’t be doing.”

Also, the levy monies will provide two-way radios to improve emergency communications between schools, buses and the central office, Blackwell said.

Evening bus runs a couple of times per week will also be added so that schools may provide tutoring to more students.

The buses will be for every student — those who may be working on extra curricular activities, sports, as well as tutoring, the superintendent noted.

“We have a lot of students who need tutoring but have no transportation after school,” Blackwell said. “The evening bus runs will address those situations.”

The excess levy also provides funding for the tutoring programs, after school activities, summer school, and technology education, Blackwell said.

Insurance for any school-related accident for every child will also continue, Blackwell said.

A portion of the levy funding also provides money to the county’s public library system, the WVU Extension and 4-H, and the county Health Department to support programs that directly impact school age children, according to Blackwell.

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