Superintendent: If the levy fails in May, loss of funding will have a ‘major impact’ on school system

BUCKHANNON – The Upshur County Schools Superintendent recently stressed the importance of passing the renewal of the five-year excess levy during the upcoming May election.

Superintendent Christy Miller attended the Nov. 9 Create Buckhannon meeting and talked about short- and long-term goals at the board of education. She told Create Buckhannon members the board must attempt to renew the levy.

“We’ve been having a lot of conversations in the office and with the department about the excess levy and the failure of its passage,” Miller said. “We have to run the excess levy in May. If we don’t, the funding that we will lose will have a major impact on the school system.”

According to a previous My Buckhannon article, the renewal of the levy will appear on the Primary Election Ballot on May 14, 2024, designated as Election Day in the Mountain State, according to the W.Va. Secretary of State’s Office election calendar.

“I passed an excess levy right in the middle of COVID; I know you have to do things differently,” Miller said. “I did videos; we passed out pamphlets. You have to be creative, but you also have to be honest and upfront with the citizens that you’re asking them to take on an additional tax burden and you have to explain what we’re asking them to do and how it will help better things.”

County residents voted against the renewal of the five-year excess levy by a margin of just 166 votes in the General Election in November 2022, according to a previous article.  

“Currently, the levy provides free materials for all students in Upshur County,” Miller said. “That means books, paper, pencils — anything that is necessary for our students. That’s a big thing. Free admissions for student to events would go away. Extracurricular or extra duty contracts that we offer for our folks to cover the different clubs and organizations, coaching stipends, those kinds of things — they would see a huge hit. A lot of those activities would have to cease, or we’d have to combine things to be able to make those work.”

She also said the State Department of Education plans to begin a deep dive into Upshur County’s special education programs next week.

“[They’ll be] looking to make sure that IEPs are correct, that we’re providing the correct services, making sure the funding is going where it’s supposed to be, that we have enough folks hired and/or are working towards full certification to be able to serve those students in our schools,” Miller said. “They’re also going to look at things in the past — they’ll look at grants just like they did with the federal programs.”

Members of the community can also expect to see a change to the county board of education’s website.

“One of the first things I noticed when I came here was the lack of information on the website,” Miller said. “If you’re coming in and you’re looking to relocate your family to Upshur County, you can see a school calendar and you might be able to see something special that happened that day or several weeks earlier, but it’s not user-friendly or an informational gathering place for anyone, so we are currently working on rebooting our website as well.”

A final report regarding the state’s takeover of the Upshur County Board of Education will be presented in December.

“On Dec. 13, at the state board meeting, there will be a report that will be presented to the state, and it is my understanding it will be the final report of all of those areas that they are concerned about, that are not up to the standard they expect us to be,” Miller said. “The Office of Accountability is who leads these visits, so the Office of Accountability is going to present this report to the state board, and then on Tuesday evening, Dec. 19, they will be coming to present the same report to the local board of education.”

More information about the upcoming report can be found in a previous My Buckhannon article.

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