Allman, co-advisor of the Youth Leadership Association at Buckhannon-Upshur High School, with YLA students after putting up flags at the Heavner Cemetery in preparation for Veterans Day in November 2023. (Photo submitted by Brian Allman)

Local educator: School levy passage vital to Upshur County’s future

Editor’s note: The following column was submitted for publication by Upshur County Schools teacher Brian Allman.

By Brian Allman

Dear Upshur County residents,

Please take a moment to reflect on a pivotal educator who left an unforgettable mark on your life. This person guided you toward success and shaped your life’s journey in profound ways. Maybe that educator is the reason you still love learning about the subject they taught, even decades later.

Behind every accomplished individual stands a great teacher, their influence resonating through the fabric of our community. Our collective success story is intertwined with remarkable educators right here in Upshur County. As we approach the proposed renewal of the Upshur County school levy in the May 14 Primary Election, I urge you to consider the future of our community and the educators who helped shape the individuals we are today.

Admittedly, education in Upshur County faces challenges, and recent events have rightly sparked concern. However, our commitment to our students remains unwavering. As an Upshur County Schools employee for the past 16 years, I firmly believe that addressing issues head-on, in partnership with all stakeholders, is the only path forward.

Are there problems in Upshur County’s school system that need to be addressed? Absolutely. While acknowledging the need for corrective actions, withholding crucial funding for our school system would only hinder progress at this time.

Rest assured, steps are being taken at the county board level, in collaboration with the West Virginia Department of Education, to address past grievances and prevent their recurrence. Beyond rectifying these issues, there are so many other ways in which we can work together to improve our schools—while also voting “yes” for the school levy to support our teachers and service staff. 

Please attend Upshur County Board of Education meetings and let your opinions be heard as often as possible. Think about visiting our schools and asking about ways you can volunteer to bring your expertise to the table. Attend as many parent involvement activities, parent-teacher conferences, PTO/local school improvement council meetings, and other extracurricular activities as possible. 

Amidst the challenges, it’s essential to recognize the abundance of excellence within our schools. The talent and dedication exhibited by both students and educators are truly remarkable and cast a beacon of hope and resilience. While recent events may have overshadowed these bright spots, they serve as a testament to our collective commitment to fostering a brighter future for Upshur County Schools.

As educators and taxpayers, we share in the frustration and disappointment caused by recent events; however, our focus must remain steadfast on supporting our students and investing in their future. While previous events should have never happened, our county school system is being monitored closer than ever and the likelihood of something similar happening again is almost non-existent as a result.

As a teacher, I also understand consequences and the need to hold individuals accountable for their actions. It’s my hope that the larger Upshur County community can place trust within our law enforcement officers, knowing that if individuals are found guilty of wrongdoing that they will be held responsible in time. 

It’s natural to want to see this chapter of our school district’s history conclude as quickly as possible, but that isn’t likely to occur before Election Day.  We, and our student’s education, can’t afford to wait that long.

As a teacher, I can confidently say that my job would be more difficult if not for the school levy that has been in place for the entirety of my career. Levy funding provides instructional resources, such as textbooks and other school materials, for each of my students. Additionally, there is money that is earmarked for technology access and improvement, which is desperately needed in our county. 

The levy also helps me provide opportunities for my students outside of the classroom through financial support for field trips and bus transportation. I’ve also seen the impact that the levy is making in the classrooms of my co-workers and on the awesome work that they are doing as well. The levy also provides funding for increased school safety through the PRO Officer program, enables our district to continue to make capital improvements and perform preventative maintenance on existing infrastructure, and supports community-related services for worthwhile entities such as the county library, 4-H and Extension Office, and Stockert Youth and Community Center.

Continued support of the levy will help ensure that our very best educators stay in classrooms in Upshur County. In my opinion, the number one school-controlled factor of student success is the quality of the teacher in the classroom. We must continue to invest in our standout employees, who in turn invest in our students, or we will continue to see some of our very best teachers move to neighboring districts and states. Today’s students deserve the same caliber of education, with the same quality of teacher, that many of you received while attending Upshur County Schools.

I think all of us have the responsibility of investing in education, even if we don’t have students currently enrolled in a county school. Strong schools attract businesses and families, which, in turn, leads to economic growth and prosperity for our community. 

Upshur County is a wonderful place to work and live, but if we want to maintain a competitive advantage over other areas of West Virginia, we must be willing to invest in education.

An investment in education is an investment in the future of our society. Education is an incredibly difficult job, but I see teachers, school administrators, and service personnel show up daily and pour their entire hearts into our students.

It’s a calling—one that we embrace with dedication and passion. As we navigate challenges and strive for excellence, a “yes” vote for the school levy signifies our commitment to our youth and our community. It’s an investment in the promise of tomorrow and the enduring legacy of Upshur County Schools.

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