Brooke schools seek levy Nov. 9

WELLSBURG – Brooke County school officials are asking voters to support the continuation of a school levy that has been in effect since 1958.

The special election will be held Nov. 9, with polls open from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. For those unable to make it to the polls on that day, early voting is available for registered voters from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. today through Saturday and Monday through Wednesday at the Brooke County Courthouse.

For questions about polling sites or early voting, call the county clerk’s office at (304) 737-3661.

The levy is expected to generate $6.1 million annually or $30.9 million over the next five years.

The amount is higher than in previous years, based on higher assessments for property values, but based on the same tax rates as before: 22.95 cents per $100 of Class I property; 45.9 cents per $100 of Class II property; and 91.8 cents per $100 of Class III and IV property.

Its passage depends on the support of at least one vote above 50 percent of those who turn out for the election.

Brooke County Superintendent Kathy Kidder Wilkerson said the levy funds teachers and other staff not covered by the state.

She explained the state provides funds for about 72 teachers per 1,000 students and about 43 service personnel, such as aides, custodians and bus drivers, per 1,000 students. Last year the levy provided funds for 34 professional and service personnel not covered by the state.

Wilkerson said the levy allows teachers to provide more one-on-one instruction, with an average of 21 students per classroom, and makes a variety of courses, including vocational programs, available.

“All of our extracurricular programs, including all of our coaches, come out of it,” she added.

Wilkerson said the levy also funds staff for the Brooke High School Wellness Center, which includes a swimming pool and exercise equipment available to Brooke County residents at no charge after school hours.

She said textbooks are a major expense funded by the levy. Of about $1.5 million spent on textbooks by the school board in the last five years, $800,000 came from the levy, Wilkerson said.

She said while online textbooks are gradually replacing conventional ones, the school board still must assume a portion of their cost.

Wilkerson said for the first time, funds from the levy will help to keep Brooke County sheriff’s deputies as prevention resource officers in their schools. She noted in addition to school funds, the officers were supported previously by the Brooke County Sheriff’s Department and state grants, but the latter have diminished in recent years.

Money from the levy will be spent in the following areas:

$375,000 for instructional materials, such as textbooks, workbooks and library materials; furniture, supplies, equipment and computer-based needs.

$2 million for security, maintenance and repairs to facilities to ensure they comply with various state and federal standards, county vehicles, fire and general liability insurance and utilities.

$3,026,000 for staff not funded by the state, including extracurricular positions, substitutes for service and professional personnel and fixed charges.

$70,000 for extra duty wages for student academic and athletic trips.

$555,000 for dental, optical and health insurance coverage and retirement for all regular employees.

110,000 for additional services, such as instruction of homebound students, tutoring, speech, occupational and physical therapy; psychological services and participation in Regional Educational Service Agency 6.