Why special levy is important to schools
Morgan County School Treasurer Nancy White said that without special levy funding the school system would be operating at the bare minimum. Non-essential personnel would be cut.
There are already reductions in force coming due to other funding cuts, White said. Some employees could be transferred to other positions due to retirements, while others may lose their jobs. Employees are being notified now.
Title 1 and federal special education funding has been budgeted with a 7% decrease in funding. Whether school Medicaid reimbursements for special needs situations could be slashed due to new reporting guidelines is still up in the air.
Last year they riffed five aides but had to bring them back due to situations arising with special needs children. They’ve had many special needs students enter the school system as of late, White said. Some students may need a teacher and/or an aide assigned to them individually, depending on their individual education program (IEP).
They are currently 20.07 professional educators and 1.86 counselors and school nurses over the state aid formula, as well as 14.368 service personnel positions over. The school board incurs the full salaries and benefits for all employees over the formula.
Specials, class sizes
While White couldn’t speak to specific required classes for middle and secondary level students, she said that without special levy funding special classes like music, art and theater would probably be eliminated.
They would definitely have to reduce positions and increase class sizes, particularly at the middle school and high school level. Advanced Placement classes with just a few kids in them would probably have to be cut, she said. Elementary school class sizes are pretty well set in stone.
Sports fees, agency cuts
Without special levy funding, kids would be required to pay fees to participate in sports and other extra-curricular activities and contribute to transportation costs to participate, White said. 21st Century learning would come to a halt.
Agencies and organizations that depended on them for funding would have to cut services because the current level of financial aid from the schools couldn’t be maintained.
There would be no more salary supplements over the state minimum salary schedule or vision or dental benefits and tuition reimbursements that help attract and retain quality professionals if there was no special levy funding, White said.
It would place Morgan County at a much lower teacher salary level than in Berkeley and Jefferson Counties and surrounding counties in Maryland and make it even more difficult to attract good teachers here.
They would probably delay adoption of textbooks and maybe just purchase some class sets as opposed to textbooks for individual children.
White said if she didn’t have money to replace the roof at the middle school, she might have to take it from money used for air conditioning, which is not required.
Counties without a special levy don’t receive more state aid than those with a special levy, White said. The special levy has nothing to do with state aid or current state funding.
“The school aid formula is the same for everyone. It’s based on enrollment,” she noted.
The special levy was first voted into effect in 1958 in Morgan County and has been approved by voters ever since.
The special levy provides monies for free textbooks, instructional materials and equipment, technology, facilities and maintenance, employee salaries and benefits, athletics, music and the arts and extra-curricular and curricular field trips, along with some transportation.
It also provides financial support to community agencies and organizations that include the Morgan County Public Libraries, the Morgan County Health Department, the Morgan County West Virginia University 4-H Extension Office, Energy Express, the Morgan Arts Council and Morgan County Parks and Recreation.
The salary and benefits for the School Prevention Resource Officer position has been added to the levy election order purposes, as well as specific monies for 21st technology and school security and safety measures. Morgan County Sheriff’s Deputy Kevin Barney serves as prevention resource officer.