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Berkeley schools budget includes no cuts or pay raises

May 04, 2009|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. -- The Berkeley County Board of Education on Monday evening approved a $167 million operating budget for the 2009-10 fiscal year that includes no cuts or pay raises, but Superintendent Manny P. Arvon said financial uncertainty remains.

"Like every business in this economic climate, things are tight," Arvon said. "We will move forward cautiously. The outlook is uncertain ... especially in a growing school system, you have to look a couple years down the road.

"It's just our hope like everyone else that the economy picks up," he said. "We did not make any cuts; we were able to keep our programs and employees status quo."

School district officials hope the economic climate improves enough by this fall to ask voters to approve a bond issue to help pay for construction of a new high school at Spring Mills, a new middle school, the addition of 15 to 20 classrooms at Musselman High School, and a major renovation and addition at Martinsburg North Middle School, Arvon said.

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A $100,000 planning grant awarded last month for the new high school by the West Virginia State Building Authority represents a "guarantee" for $25 million in matching money for the $50 million project, Arvon said.

With the passage of another bond for capital improvements by voters, Arvon expects the school district would be able to draw down a total of about $45 million in state money for what would be more than $100 million in building projects.

The school district currently is moving forward with construction of a new Spring Mills primary school and addition of a wing at Eagle School Intermediate, with prebid meetings scheduled later this month for interested contractors.

The SBA previously approved at least $11 million in state money for those two projects.

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