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Morgan County school board OKs 11% bigger budget

May 06, 2006|By TRISH RUDDER

BERKELEY SPRINGS, W.Va.

The Morgan County Board of Education this week unanimously approved a $19,630,000 budget for 2006-07, an increase of 11 percent over last year.

Nancy White, treasurer of Morgan County Schools, said the increase is for an expected growth in enrollment, and a significant increase in instructional positions to accommodate enrollment.

The budget also includes an increase in the supplemental salaries paid by the county of $35 per month to all school personnel, which was approved at the May 1 meeting, White said.

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About 540 employees will receive the increase "to make Morgan County salaries competitive with the hopes of recruiting and retaining highly qualified teachers and service personnel," White said.

About 25 to 30 employees per year leave Morgan County for better-paying jobs, said Peggy Miller, the schools' personnel director.

Funding for the general current expense levy comes from more than $8 million in local property taxes and more than $10 million in state aid. The funding is used for general operating expenses for all West Virginia schools, White said.

Morgan County property valuations have increased from 11 percent last year to 23 percent, county Assessor John Allen Swaim said.

"As property valuations increase, the state aid fund provides less money to the county schools, and there is $378,674 less than the last fiscal year from state aid to support the schools," White said. "That's the reason why the excess levy is needed."

The excess levy pays for additional needs, including salary supplements and benefits, supplies, texts, technology equipment, maintenance and school trips, White said.

The school board voted to decrease the excess levy rate from 95 percent to 90 percent for the fiscal year beginning July 1 from the maximum 100 percent excess levy rate that is in effect through June 30, 2009.

The excess levy has been 95 percent for several years, with 5 percent being used for capital building projects.

"The Board felt the balance of about $1,224,875 in our Capital Projects Fund was sufficient for our current building needs, and they felt they could decrease the levy rate since major building projects are complete," White said.

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