Jeffrey Perkins, financial director for Upshur County Schools, briefs the commission on the upcoming excess levy renewal. The levy will appear on the Nov. 8, 2022 General Election ballot. / Photo by Monica Zalaznik

Upshur Schools finance director briefs county commission on excess levy renewal details

BUCKHANNON – A representative from Upshur County Schools informed the Upshur County Commission about the services covered by the excess levy.

Jeffery Perkins, financial director for Upshur County Schools, attended the Aug. 18 Upshur County Commission to discuss the importance of the levy before its potential renewal for the fiscal year 2024.

“Due to a change in state law, there are no longer special elections for levies or bonds, so there is a synchronization period every other cycle because a levy is a five-year event and the elections are four-year events; we are two years ahead of when our current levy expires,” Perkins said. “We’re asking the citizens of Upshur County to renew the current levy which has been in effect for 20 years without any increase in taxes.”

The levy provides about $3,248,000 to the school system each year.

“Dr. Stankus says bonds are for building and that’s what we attempted earlier in the year, and the citizens let us know where we stood there,” Perkins said. “The levy is for learning; this is what provides the supplies and the equipment necessary to educate our students throughout the year.”

The levy provides additional funds for instructional programs, supplies and materials. It also provides teachers with $200 each year for specific items they need to teach their students. It also funds textbooks, the summer school program and the alternative school program.

“It provides for technology systems, as you may know, we provide one-to-one devices for all of our students, all of our teachers have Apple devices and we have a touchscreen technology in every classroom in the county,” Perkins said.

Any maintenance or capital improvement projects are pulled from levy funds, as well as contracted services, such as the PRO officer program.

“The funds also provide funds for community supported programs like the libraries, the 4-H extension office and the Stockert Youth and Community Center,” Perkins said. “In 2024, we will be able to offer annual passes to the West Virginia State Wildlife Center and the Upshur County Recreational Park.”

The board of education was able to start offering the passes during their summer learning program using COVID-19 relief funds. The program was received so well, that they wanted to move that program forward, so they started looking for cost-saving measures.

“What we’ve discovered is there’s some cost savings; over the past 20 years, some things that were funded are no longer needed,” Perkins said. “A lot of that has to do with technology. Where we were buying computers, now we lease computers and we don’t have repair costs anymore. Now they are replaced for another one, so there’s some cost savings, and that’s where that money comes from for some of these new initiatives.”

The levy also helps cover the costs of transportation for extracurricular activities and field trips.

“If a school wants to take a field trip, one of the things we’ve been able to support is to pay for their transportation. They still have to come up with funding for whatever it is, but that is a big, big help to our parents because now they don’t have to sell things and raise money just for the bus expenses,” Perkins said.

The levy also provides accident insurance for all students in Upshur County if a student is injured in any way related to a school event or during the school day.

“We’re like everyone else, we have a challenge finding employees, so our substitutes are gainfully employed almost every day, and this allows us to provide that funding,” Perkins said. “The final thing is the passes for our seniors, our military and our students to attend our athletic events.”

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