FRENCH CREEK – When Upshur County voters go to the polls during the November 9, 2022 general election, they will address the issue of continuing the supplementary levy for Upshur County Schools. The levy has existed since 1999.
The continuation of the levy will not result in an increase in taxpayer fees as it is a continuation and the same rate as since 1999 applies.
Upshur County Schools’ excess levy generates approximately $3,248,000 per year, and these funds represent approximately 9 to 10 percent of the Upshur County School System’s annual budget. Purposes for which additional funds are needed to maintain and improve instructional programs and the operation of school services include, but are not limited to:
- $450,000 for textbooks, library books, essential school supplies and equipment;
- $75,000 for summer school;
- $175,000 for alternative education programs, transition school, option paths, and virtual school;
- $300,000 to purchase or lease hardware, software, infrastructure, and training;
- $50,000 for maintenance, upgrade and connection with WVEIS;
- $50,000 for providing technology specialists and services to expand, sustain, and improve use of technology;
- $200,000 for security improvements;
- $400,000 for general maintenance including materials, roofing, heating, air conditioning, floors, windows, doors and paint;
- $450,000 for replacement workers;
- $348,000 for extracurricular activities and extended employee contracts;
- $75,000 for Prevention Officers;
- $75,000 for athletic trainers;
- $100,000 for after-school bus expenses and field trips;
- $15,000 for free entry for Upshur County students to after-school events;
- $10,000 for free admission to after-school events for Upshur County residents age 60 and older;
- $5,000 for free admission to after-school activities for Upshur County active-duty and military veterans;
- $20,000 for Student Accident Insurance for all Upshur County students;
- $25,000 for community support for Upshur County Public Library, 4-H and Extension Office, and Stockert Youth Center;
- And $25,000 for annual passes for students and families to visit Upshur County Recreational Park and W.Va. Wildlife Center.
During the Oct. 11 question-and-answer session at French Creek Elementary School regarding the continuation of the deductible, Upshur County Schools interim superintendent Dr. Debra Harrison said the Upshur County community is “wonderful” and has continued to receive the levy since 1999.
Harrison said this year’s proposed extension — which accounts for 9 to 10 percent of their total budget –– will not cause an increase in taxes paid because it’s just an extension at the current rate. However, if it fails, the school system will go haywire, she said.
“If the levy doesn’t pass, we’ll have to make a lot of budget adjustments that our students will suffer,” Harrison said. “Students will suffer because they won’t have some of the things the levy provides, and our community will suffer because we donate to Stockert Youth, district libraries and the 4-H program. Many of those dollars that the levy provides would be lost if the levy is not passed.”
Harrison said Upshur County Schools has faith in community members, and staff and administrators believe residents care about education.
“We believe the levy will happen,” Harrison said. “If anyone has any questions, they can call me, Jeffrey Perkins (Treasurer/Treasurer/Treasurer of Upshur County Schools) or Melinda Stewart (Interim Assistant Superintendent) at the Board Office and we will answer your questions.”
BOE member Sherry Dean said she remembers teaching at Upshur County Schools prior to a donation.
“I taught CPR and I remember having rain drip down my back,” Dean said. “Everything was in such bad condition. The donation benefits our children, our students and parents very much. When I first came to Upshur County in 1969, I was quite shocked when I went to the bookstore to buy school books. In the county I’m from, we didn’t have to buy our own books. It was had when people had to spend money on their children’s school books.”
BOE Vice President Jan Craig said she completely forgot about the bookstore.
“I remember my first days teaching on Main Street,” shared BOE member Roy Wager. “When I was a third and fourth grade teacher, the first thing I was told was to grab a box of papers because that was all I would get for the year. We didn’t have computers and everything was handwritten. Walking around before retiring as superintendent, I asked the staff about the levy… and asked them to find out what the kids and they were doing [could do without] if the delivery does not come about because many things are not planned – including employees.”
There has been debate as to how Upshur County’s levy compares to other counties in West Virginia. Officials said 39 of West Virginia’s 55 counties have voter-approved excessive levies, and 24 of those 39 applicable levies have higher tax rates than Upshur County. Overall, Upshur County is currently ranked 25thth West Virginia counties’ amount in local taxpayer contributions to education.
The continuation of the Excess Levy election at Upshur County Schools will take place on November 8 and polling stations will be open from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Election Day, Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m
The last day you can register to vote in the general election is October 18th.
Anyone with questions regarding the continuation of filing can call the Upshur County Schools Central Office at 304-472-5480. The next public question-and-answer session for the tax solicitation will be on October 25 at 5:30 p.m. at the Washington District Elementary School before the Upshur County Board of Education meeting.