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Morgan County Schools approve budget increase

March 29, 2007|by TRISH RUDDER

BERKELEY SPRINGS, W.Va. - The proposed $21,430,000 budget for fiscal year 2007-08 was unanimously approved Tuesday night by the Morgan County Board of Education, an increase of about 11 percent from last year.

Nancy White, treasurer of Morgan County Schools, said the increase reflects a 1.5 percent raise in salaries, in addition to the 3.5 percent pay boost from the West Virginia Legislature, bringing the salaries up 5 percent.

State lawmakers earlier this month approved increasing the local share of property tax revenues for all 55 counties. The shift in funding means that county school boards will have more money and flexibility to attract and retain teachers and staff.

Next year, the local share will be increased another 4 percent in favor of the school districts.

White said the 4 percent difference that goes into effect July 1 allowed the county to pay 350 professional and staff employees a 1.5 percent increase in salary. All of it was used for salary increases, she said, even though the wording in the bill did not stipulate that.

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The additional salary will help Morgan County be more competitive with surrounding states that offer higher pay, said David Banks, assistant schools superintendent.

White said about 20 percent of the staff leaves Morgan County Schools each year.

The budget increase also will fund the expected growth in enrollment and an increase in instructional positions to accommodate the enrollment, schools Superintendent David Temple said.

The total countywide property valuations have increased about 10 percent, which is attributed to more than $38 million in new construction, White said. This creates more taxpayers, she said.

The school board voted to keep the excess levy rate at 90 percent for the fiscal year that begins July 1. It was decreased from 95 percent to 90 percent last year. The projected revenue from the excess levy is $4,682,682.

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

The excess levy rate is in effect through June 30, 2009. Morgan County will vote on keeping an excess levy late in 2008, said Laura Smith, school board president.

White said 5 percent of the excess levy is used for building projects, and the capital projects building fund has a balance of $751,000.

The West Virginia School Building Authority recently awarded $294,210 to replace the windows in the arts and humanities building at Berkeley Springs High School, so money from the building fund will not have to be used for that project. White said.




Public hearing



What: Public hearing on the fiscal year 2007-08 budget for Morgan County Schools

When: May 1, 7 p.m.

Where: Board of Education office, Harrison Street, Berkeley Springs, W.Va.

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