BUCKHANNON – Buckhannon City Council on Thursday threw its support behind the renewal of Upshur County Schools’ excess levy, which is on the November 8, 2022, General Election ballot.
At its regular Oct. 6 meeting, council members voted unanimously, by a roll-call vote, to approve a resolution in support of the upcoming Upshur County School Levy Renewal for the fiscal years beginning July 1, 2024, and continuing through the 2025, 2026, 2027 and 2028 fiscal years.
If passed by a majority vote in the Nov. 8, 2022, general election, the levy renewal would authorize the continuation of additional levies in the amount of $3,248,000.
The Buckhannon City Council originally heard about the details of the proposed levy renewal in August, from then-Upshur County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Sara Lewis Stankus and Financial Director Jeffrey Perkins. Perkins and Stankus explained the funds raised by the excess levy would be used to pay for items such as instructional programs; supplies and materials including $200 per classroom teacher; technology access and improvement; capital improvements and preventive maintenance; and contracted services.
If passed, the levy would also continue to provide support to county libraries; 4-H and the Upshur County Extension Office; the Stockert Youth & Community Center; annual passes for students and families for the Upshur County Recreational Park and the West Virginia Wildlife Center; Upshur County student accident insurance; pay for substitute employees; student-related community services; extracurricular activities; and extended employee agreements.
The resolution signed by the Buckhannon City Council members, Np. 2022-07, states that “the Buckhannon-Upshur Community has steadfastly supported and passed all school levies since 1998 and said the proposed school levy will not result in any increase in taxation to affected property owners.”
The resolution also spells out that “the citizens of Buckhannon have historically supported public education and hence school levies” and says that, “the Council of the City of Buckhannon believes it is important and compelling to remind all citizens of our Buckhannon-Upshur community to value, support and appreciate public education and urges all our voting citizens to vote FOR the 2022 School Levy on Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2022, further reminding all citizens that communities that value education through school levy support are generally viewed by the external business world as being the most financially viable and progressive communities meriting consideration for economic development.”
During the prior Buckhannon City Council meeting, members agreed that they wished to support the continuation of the Upshur County School Levy and agreed to address the issue again during the first meeting of October, adding that it would make it timelier to show their support closer to the Nov. 8 General Election.
Buckhannon city officials said the wording for the resolution included the same wording that was used in 2019, which is the last time the Upshur County School system went for a renewal of the excess levy. Mayor Robbie Skinner also explained the reasoning behind the timing of the proposed renewal.
“A West Virginia Legislative change now requires school systems to have any levy calls during normal general election terms which is Nov. 8,” Skinner said. “This levy will take effect July 1, 2024. We still have the current school levy which will be in effect until June 20, 2024.”
As Skinner read the resolution, it said the City Council formally endorses the partners of the Upshur County Board of Education, the Superintendent and the school administration in their collective effort to pass the Nov. 8, 2022 school levy for the benefit of all the children; that they strongly urge all voters throughout the Buckhannon-Upshur community to vote FOR the school levy; and that the resolution be a manifest to the City of Buckhannon’s strongest commitment to support and realize the passage of the 2022 school levy.
Buckhannon City Councilman Dave Thomas made the motion to approve the resolution, which received a second by Buckhannon City Recorder Randy Sanders before passing unanimously. Councilman CJ Rylands was unable to attend the meeting due to medical reasons, and councilman David McCauley did not attend Thursday’s meeting.
On Friday, Upshur County Board of Education President Dr. Tammy Samples said she was pleased to hear of the Buckhannon City Council’s support for continuing the levy.
“The levy provides many things to the students in Upshur County Schools,” Samples said. “It generates almost 10 percent of the yearly budget. So, approving the levy would benefit the students in Upshur County and we appreciate the support of the Buckhannon City Council.”
Upshur County BOE Vice-President Jan Craig said the continuation of the levy would benefit more than just the Upshur County Schools students.
“It provides grandparents and Veterans the opportunity to attend school activities such as sports events free of charge,” Craig said. “It benefits the entire county.”