District asks for $25M for new school

March 16, 2009|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Berkeley County Schools Superintendent Manny P. Arvon and Board of Education President William F. "Bill" Queen on Monday asked the state School Building Authority (SBA) for $25 million to help the school district build a fourth high school.

Berkeley County was one of 33 districts across West Virginia that presented requests to the agency, which was created 20 years ago to facilitate and provide state money for construction and maintenance of public schools.

Arvon and Queen made their presentation at 10:50 a.m. Monday in Charleston, W.Va.

The SBA is expected to make decisions on the school districts' requests next month, Arvon said.

Even if they are awarded the money to build a new high school at Spring Mills in northern Berkeley County, the school district would need additional funding through a new school bond or alternative funding, Arvon said.

"With the current state of the economy, (the SBA is) looking at all possibilities in funding school projects," Arvon said.


And given the downturn, Arvon said he is reluctant to ask the county taxpayers to support another bond levy for various projects, such as the high school and a needed renovation of Martinsburg North Middle School.

Exactly how federal stimulus money allocated to the state for education will be spent remains unclear, Arvon said.

"It's going to take a little more time for a final answer," Arvon said.

  • In other business Monday, school officials announced that county taxpayers could see a small reduction in taxes on their next property tax bill.

    The reduction comes as the district is on track to pay a school bond passed in 1995, James Welton told school board members.

    The owners of a $100,000 home would see a reduction of $5.04, Welton said.

    Any decrease by the school district might be offset by an expected increase in the levy rate controlled by the Berkeley County Commission. Commission President Ronald K. Collins earlier this month said he expected a need to increase its levy rate, which could cost taxpayers an extra $1 or 2 per month in taxes.

    Martinsburg City Council's budget and finance committee this month recommended no change in the levy rate it controls.

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