TENNERTON – It’s official: Upshur County Schools plans to re-run the levy in the May 2024 Primary Election.
Superintendent Christy Miller made the announcement at the Upshur County Board of Education’s Oct. 10 meeting. (The board meets only once a month now because the West Virginia Department of Education and state Board of Education must pre-approve all items on the agenda.)
Near the end of that meeting, Miller said she had been fielding questions about the matter.
“The only other thing I would share – because folks are starting to ask questions – is that we will be running a levy, and it will be coming up in May,” she said. “I’ve been working with the state department of education on that.”
“I’ve been looking at past levies and what’s been included in those,” Miller added. “I’m also looking at how funds were distributed through past levy calls, and we’re starting to reach out to different folks within the county who can lend a hand and provide some additional information that we need.”
Miller will then consult the West Virginia Department of Education and the legal firm, Bowles Rice, for assistance.
“The department will help us formulate what that would look like, and we would then go to Bowles Rice, who represents us, and they would help put that together in legal terms and also help us put the ballot together, and then it would go out [for viewing] to citizens of the county.”
Miller said she’s already been invited to talk about the levy at several PTO organizations in the spring, and once the levy language is finalized, “we’re going to get together some other folks who would be willing to host some [informational] sessions, whether those be in their homes or businesses.”
“For those who are interested in learning more about the levy, we will make ourselves available to them so we can get the message out about the levy, what it’s going to be covering as far as costs and how they go back to improving outcomes for our students, which, in turn, improves the community as a whole,” she said.
The levy question would 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.
Miller’s announcement comes on the heels of two failed education-related measures in Upshur County. Most recently, county residents voted against a renewal of the five-year excess levy – which previously passed in a January 2019 special election – by a margin of just 166 votes in the General Election in November 2022, according to a previous article.
That November 2022 General Election marked the first time in more than 22 years that Upshur County Schools’ proposed continuation of the excess levy had failed — 3,164 to 2,998 votes. However, the current five-year levy that residents voted in favor of in January 2019 remains in effect through June 30, 2024.
Just 10 months prior, in January 2022, Upshur County Schools ran a special bond call proposal that, if passed, would have funded the construction of a new comprehensive career-and-technical high school and a remodeling of Buckhannon-Upshur High School to mold it into a middle school.
However, voters decisively rejected the measure. With 20 of 21 voting precincts reporting – there were technical issues at the Selbyville Fire Department precinct – 3,390 registered voters voted against the bond call, while only 764 voted for the proposal.
Had it passed, renovations to the current high school were expected to cost about $8 million while the largest portion – roughly $62 million – would have supplied funding to construct the proposed CTE high school.
Prior to that, in a special January 2019 excess levy election, Upshur County voters approved the continuation of the 2014 levy by one of the largest margins in recent history. The results showed 66.78 percent of the voters were in favor of the levy, while 33.22 percent of the voters were against the passage of the levy.
That margin of approval definitively surpassed previous school levy elections; the measure squeaked by in 2009 and was approved by a 13-point margin in 2014, according to previous reporting.