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Community members cooperate to promote school levy in Morgan Co.

September 26, 2008|By TRISH RUDDER

BERKELEY SPRINGS, W.Va. - For the first time in 50 years, Morgan County will vote on a school levy in the general election.

Schools Superintendent David Banks said at Wednesday night's committee meeting on continuing the school levy that "$25,000 is too costly to have a special election. That's why Nov. 4 was selected."

About 25 residents attended the meeting.

Banks said a video is to be made that will include the school levy talking points. The levy provides 20 percent of the funds to operate the school system, he said.

It provides funding support in five major areas, including instructional materials, such as textbooks and technology equipment, and extracurricular activities such as athletics, music and the arts.

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He said if the levy fails, employees will lose $2,500 a year that comes from supplemental salary and benefits.

Committees formed include Publicity/Public Relations, Finance, Get out the Voters, Endorsement and Speakers - all with an eye toward finding the best ways to inform the public about why the school levy is needed, officials said.

Committee chairwoman Mary Hansen said free yard and car signs will be provided by the West Virginia Education Association.

Attorney Larry Schultz said it is important to let people know what would be lost if the levy is not approved.

Accountant Brad Close, who chairs the finance committee, said he received $2,100 in donations by the end of the evening.

Hampshire County, W.Va., has been without a school levy since the one there expired June 30, 2007. Voters rejected the levy in November 2006. A special election was held last March, and the levy again was defeated.

Denise Hott, treasurer of Hampshire County Schools, said in a telephone interview Wednesday that school supplies and materials, and repairs and maintenance have been affected.

Only emergency repair work is done and scheduled repair work has been discontinued, except at one school at which it was necessary to repair the roof before winter, Hott said.

Money that would have covered instructional materials for supplies must be raised by the individual schools, Hott said.

Because of the bleak economic outlook, "this year will be the true telling year," she said.

Staffing is another area of concern, according to Hott.

"We have cut back tremendously in the last two years," she said.

The after-school bus runs have been cut, she said, which have affected after-school programs.

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