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Jefferson school officials concerned over money cut

January 22, 2003|by DAVE McMILLION

charlestown@herald-mail.com

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - Jefferson County Schools officials are dismayed after learning that the amount of state money they were expecting to receive to help offset the cost of new students has been cut by nearly $500,000.

Superintendent of Schools R. Steven Nichols told the Jefferson County Board of Education Tuesday night that the school system was expecting to receive $721,000 to offset the cost of adding new students to the school system.

Nichols said he has been told by state officials that the number would be cut to $237,137.

Part of the problem is that there was only so much money for increased school enrollment to go around, said Nancy White, treasurer for the school system.

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About $4 million was needed to offset increased enrollment for county school systems across the state, but only $1.4 million was available, White said.

White said she does not expect the funding shortfall to hurt the school system because she did not include the anticipated increased enrollment money in the school system's budget.

Nichols said he plans to fight for the money. He said he has talked to local lawmakers about the problem and he anticipates some bills will be introduced in the Legislature in an attempt to get the remaining $483,863.

Nichols said it's an issue that cannot be ignored, especially when the federal government is emphasizing its No Child Left Behind act in public education.

"We can't let that happen. This is very serious," Nichols said.

About 231 new students entered the school system this year, and school officials say they are considering changing attendance zones for some schools to relieve overcrowded conditions in classrooms.

Nichols has said if the Board of Education does not redistrict some school attendance zones, it will have to resort to buying portable classrooms to create more space at some schools.

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