Growing schools shortchanged, Arvon says

January 21, 1998

Growing schools shortchanged, Arvon says


Staff Writer, Martinsburg

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Berkeley County schools will receive a $576,015 budget supplement for increased enrollment, but Superintendent Manny Arvon says that is well below what the system should be receiving as the fastest-growing in the state.

"That's 59 percent of what the county should receive," Arvon said after Tuesday night's Board of Education meeting. He said full funding for increased enrollment during the 1996-97 school year should have been around $970,000, but that wouldn't address all of the problem.

Arvon said Berkeley and Jefferson counties accounted for 51 percent of the student population increase in West Virginia last year. Berkeley County alone accounted for 36 percent, he said.


Arvon said that over the past three years, the county school system has received $1.5 million less than it should have gotten from the West Virginia Board of Education.

He said the state allocated about $2 million to counties for increased enrollment, but the funding formula doesn't take into account several factors.

"Some of these counties, in order to build enrollment, have started preschool, nonmandated programs," Arvon said.

Some counties with declining enrollments receive extra funding because of such programs.

Berkeley and Jefferson counties are the only counties in West Virginia that do not have full-day kindergarten programs.

"It's bigger than a funding issue. It's a facilities issue," Arvon said.

While the budget supplement will help with the hiring of additional teachers, it doesn't deal with where to put them or the extra students.

"The hidden cost in all of that is, not only does it cost you more for teachers, but for all the support services," he said. Those include additional bus drivers, food service personnel, textbooks and buildings.

The county is in the midst of a building program that includes a new Musselman High School and Potomack Intermediate School and conversion of the old Musselman High into a middle school.

School board Presi-dent Bill Sonnik said recently that the system is growing fast enough to fill a large elementary school every two years.

Enrollment in the current school year, for example, is up by more than 300 students from 1996-97.

Arvon was encouraged that the report from the governor's Commission on Educational Quality and Equity recommends the state legislature address the need for additional funding for increased enrollment.

He said the Commission is also recommending that all-day kindergarten be opened in every county and that the issue of facilities be addressed.

The Herald-Mail Articles