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Berkeley Co. OK's budget for schools

April 22, 1998|By CLYDE FORD

HEDGESVILLE, W.Va. - The Berkeley County Board of Education on Tuesday formally approved a $64 million budget for the 1998-1999 fiscal year.

The budget includes more than $1.8 million to add 42 professional staff and 37 service personnel.

The budget is about $6 million higher than the current spending plan, due partially to staffing increases for Potomack Intermediate School - set to open in the fall - and all-day kindergarten, said school board President George William Sonnik III.

The school board also voted Tuesday to keep the school levy at the same tax rate. The school board is receiving more money from the same levy because of growth. The school board also will receive additional money from the state because of the increased enrollment.

The schools also are spending $1.6 million for new textbooks.

"Yes, it represents a lot of money, but the textbooks and materials represent the tools that are needed by the teachers," said Ernie Dotson, an instructional specialist who oversaw the textbook committees.

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Dotson said the 40 members on the elementary, middle and high school committees have worked since September reviewing textbooks.

Many of the new textbooks include resource materials on compact discs, references to related Internet sites and videos for classroom instruction.

Betsy Dove, chair of the kindergarten through fifth grade committee, said the books have been available at the schools and at the Martinsburg-Berkeley County Public Library for parents to review.

Assistant Superintendent James R. Welton Jr. said less money will be spent on maintenance next year to balance the budget.

The school system is growing by 200 to 300 students a year, the highest growth in the state, Welton said.

The school system has about 12,500 students.

That will mean more money coming in from the state, he said.

The state will allocate an additional $400,000 for the current fiscal year and an additional $675,000 next fiscal year to cover the increased enrollment, he said.

The $400,000 will go on the books as a carryover to the next fiscal year. The school board currently has a budget reserve of about $750,000.

The budget reserves may be needed for the Musselman Middle School construction project, Welton said.

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