Upshur voters invited to public meetings to learn about upcoming school levy renewal

BUCKHANNON – A recent change in West Virginia code now mandates that Excess School Levy elections be included on the ballot during a primary or general election, so on Nov. 8, 2022, voters will have the opportunity to extend the Upshur County Schools Excess Levy which has been in place since July 1, 1999.

The renewal would be for a period of five fiscal years, from 2024 to 2029. Renewal of the levy will not cause an increase in taxes: Upshur County Schools Financial Director Jeffrey Perkins said the proposed levy call maintains the same rates as the previous two levies. The school system expects to receive approximately $18,000 more a year due to an increase in the value of some county properties.

Upshur County School officials and members of the Upshur County Board of Education have set up three public meetings for residents to attend and learn about the excess levy and have the opportunity to ask questions. These sessions will be held beginning at 5:30 p.m. at the following locations and dates:

  • Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2022, at Hodgesville Elementary School, prior to the Upshur County Board of Education meeting;
  • Tuesday, Oct. 11, 2022, at French Creek Elementary School, prior to the Upshur County Board of Education meeting; and
  • Tuesday, Oct. 25, 2022, at Washington District Elementary School, prior to the Upshur County Board of Education meeting.

During the Upshur County Board of Education meeting held Tuesday at Rock Cave Elementary School, BOE President Dr. Tammy Samples told My Buckhannon she hopes folks will come out to the meetings to learn more about the Upshur County Schools excess Levy.

“I am not certain people always understand what it is that the levy covers,” Samples said. “I want them to understand that there will be no increase (in their taxes) because it will just be a continuation. Many of the things they like in the community are items covered in the levy funds – the 4-H Program, the Shooting Sports Program, the passes to the pool and the passes to the West Virginia Wildlife Center are all funded through the levy.”

Samples said other items covered through the levy funds include passes for athletic events and funding for the Upshur County Public Library.

“It is a way to give back – they are also supporting the community,” Samples said. “I want people to come out and hear the facts. Sometimes people only are exposed to hearsay and they do not have all the facts. By attending these meetings, they can get the facts and have the opportunity to ask questions.”

Dr. Debra Harrison, Interim Superintendent of Upshur County Schools, said the levy meetings are important because she is sure folks have questions.

“Oftentimes, the levy is confused with the bond,” Harrison said. “The levy is all about resources we are able to use to improve the learning in the county. The levy is all about doing the right thing for kids and our faculty and staff and the community. It is important voters come out and ask their questions, because they may have misconceptions, and this offers them the opportunity to have their questions answered and to clear up any confusion. We want our voters to go to the polls being fully aware of the impact of the levy.”

Melinda Stewart, Interim Assistant Superintendent of Upshur County Schools, said she hopes voters will attend the public meetings.

“This will allow voters to become educated on what the levies do for Upshur County schools,” Stewart said. “They will learn what the monies from the levy supply to the students and how that helps the education system in general.”

Stewart said those attending the informational sessions will have the opportunity to ask questions about things they may be wondering about.

“We will be able to provide them the correct information about the levy call and how that will support our schools,” Stewart said.

The Upshur County Schools Excess Levy will generate approximately $3.2 million and is used for supplies, instruction programs, technology, preventative maintenance, contracted services, community support for 4-H, community support for Stockert Youth, community support for the libraries, annual passes for the Upshur County Recreational Park and the WV Wildlife Center, student accident insurance, substitute employees, student-related community services and extracurricular activities, and extended employee agreements.

Those with questions who cannot attend any of the levy sessions may get additional information by calling Upshur County Schools at 304-472-5180, by visiting the Upshur County Board of Education located at 102 Smithfield St. or online at www.upshurschools.com.

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