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School excess tax levy back on ballot

September 14, 2006|by DAVE McMILLION

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - Local school officials say they are having a hard enough time keeping teachers in classrooms with the low state salaries they have to offer.

That's why they shudder at the thought of a current excess property tax levy for Jefferson County Schools not being approved by voters in the Nov. 7 general election.

School officials say it is vital for Jefferson County voters to renew the excess levy because it generates a little more than $15 million a year to help increase salaries for local teachers.

Salaries for Eastern Panhandle teachers is a big issue for local school systems because of the large number of teachers that leave local school systems for higher salaries in neighboring states.

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Attempts earlier this year in the state Legislature to increase the salaries were unsuccessful.

The excess property tax levy that expires this year in Jefferson County generates thousands of dollars of extra pay for teachers, said Beth Marrone, treasurer for Jefferson County Schools.

For a teacher with 20 to 25 years of experience, the levy increases that teacher's state salary by $3,035 plus gives the teacher two additional checks totaling $1,075, Marrone said.

The excess property tax levy also pays for textbooks and instructional materials, helps fund local libraries, helps pay for nurses in schools and helps fund maintenance for schools, Marrone said.

The money from the excess property tax levy makes up about a third of the school system's budget, Jefferson County Board of Education member Gary Kable said.

"If we lost that, we would be in really sad shape," Kable said.

"We need the support. I'm sure the county won't let us down after 60 years," Marrone said.

Marrone was referring to the longevity of the excess property tax levy, which has been in effect since 1946.

Board of Education members decided Aug. 24 to seek a renewal of the excess levy.

County voters will be asked to renew the levy for another four years in the general election.

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