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Getting state school cash will require a local match

December 22, 2000

Getting state school cash will require a local match



Jefferson County Del. John Doyle said last he thought there was something "suspicious" about the West Virginia School Building Authortity's decision to turn down a request for $20 million request to build a second high school. We disagree; the authority has been up-front since May about what the county must do to get its help.

That's when authority officials told Jefferson County that it needed to pass a bond issue before they would commit $4 million for renovations at every junior high school and elementary school in the county.

That $39 million proposal that went to voters Sept. 23 would have funded a new $31 million high school, $6 million in renovations to the existing school and $1.2 million in cost increases for a new middle school.

Despite the fact that school officials estimated that the owner of a house worth $100,000 would pay only $143 a year extra - or $12 poer month - extra if the issue passed, it was defeated, with 66 percent of those who cast ballots opposing it.

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School officials blamed the defeat on the spread of "misinformation" about the proposal, saying that some residents felt that if they didn't pass the bond issue, state money would still be available. Some others objected to splitting the high school pop[ulation in a county which had traditionally had only one school.

In announcing the rejection last week, School Building Authority officials said they had only $28 million in funds to dole out. Some state lawmakers are talking about changing the formula for how they do that, but it's difficult for us to believe that lawmakers in other, poorer areas of the state will agree to a change that gives a more prosperous area a bigger slice of the pie.

It seems clear that to get some state money, Jefferson County is going to have to put up some cash of its own, either by passing a bond or finding cash in the county's general fund. Tinkering with funding formulas may yield some dollars, but we don't believe substantial sums will come to Jefferson County unless residents there kick in a few bucks of their own.

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