County high schools get extra state funding for extracurricular programs

by Kate Evans
Berkeley Springs High School and Paw Paw High School along with other high schools across West Virginia will be receiving funds to support extracurricular programs that have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Berkeley Springs High School will receive $32,600 and Paw Paw High School will get $2,500 from the Extracurricular Equity Fund (ECEF) that will provide $4 million dollars to public and private high schools across the state. The fund is based on student enrollment and dedicates $50 per student to the schools.
State School Superintendent W. Clayton Burch, Governor Jim Justice and State Board of Education President Miller Hall, announced in a December 18 press release the creation of the Extracurricular Equity Fund to help sports, band, choir and other student organizations.  The Governor is matching the state Department of Education’s $2 million allocation to the fund.
According to state officials, many high school programs experienced hardships and increased costs during the pandemic to comply with more stringent public health and safety guidelines.
“As a coach, I’m in our schools all the time. I know how hard our athletes work, how diligently our bands and auxiliary groups prepare, and how hard our students in various clubs and groups work,” Governor Justice said.

“These extracurricular activities are so important to our kids and our communities. The pandemic has been an absolute punch to the stomach in a lot of ways, but I do not want losses this year to adversely affect these activities in the years to come.”
“With the additional resources provided through these funds, we hope that extracurricular activities can be sustained and continue to provide children with rich and valued experiences,” Governor Justice added.
Paw Paw Schools Principal Melinda Kasekamp said that their high school will use the funding to pay for officials and transportation for their spring sports.
“Since basketball is our largest revenue generator and that season has been non-existent thus far, this money will help pay for the spring sports which do not generate that same type of revenue,” Kasekamp said.
Berkeley Springs High School Principal Mitch Nida said that they were planning to supplement their winter and spring sports at the high school by paying for buses and officials with the funding.
“In addition, we will conduct a needs assessment of each sport and budget any necessary items/materials.  We have not had an athletic meeting to discuss this yet and may find other important needs,” Nida said.
Morgan County Schools Superintendent Kristen Tuttle said that the funding was a surprise to them and that they haven’t had much time to talk about how it will be used.
“It is generally going to be used to fill in gaps from the ticket sales that we have missed in the fall and to keep our athletic programs going the best that we can.  We still had referees to pay and transportation costs with very little funds brought in.  This money is to help offset those gaps and help us sustain things through the spring.  We are certainly grateful for the financial help to keep things going in these skinny times,” Tuttle said.