It’s a Marion County tradition, and its people deserve to be proud.
Since about 1950 — for more than six decades — county voters have supported the school excess levy.
“It is critically important to maintaining Marion County’s status as one of the leading counties in the state of West Virginia when it comes to educational performance,” Superintendent of Schools Gary Price said.
Marion County schools, Price noted. typically score at or above the state and national levels in most areas of testing, and they have earned numerous awards for student academic performance.
“We feel that the taxpayers of Marion County are getting a good return on their investment because they have been willing to support Marion County schools at an increased level,” the superintendent added.
“It is our goal to help every child maximize their education potential in a safe environment.”
Marion County is now in the process of preparing for an election to renew the school excess levy for five more years.
The West Virginia Legislature annually sets the regular levy for public schools statewide. Local school districts then have the option to lay an additional — or excess — levy, which must be voted on by the people. The local election will take place on Saturday, Oct. 12. If voters approve the 100 percent excess levy call, as thay have traditionally done by a wide margin, it would become effective July 1, 2014.
These funds, so essential to the smooth, effective operation of the public educational system, are allocated to specific areas within Marion County schools and can’t be spent on anything else.
One category includes textbooks, instructional materials, teaching equipment and supplies for media centers.
The excess levy also supports additional salary and enhanced benefits packages, such as dental and vision insurance, for current professional and service personnel.
Marion County gives a salary supplement above and beyond the state minimum.
Funds are used to improve the maintenance and operations of buildings and to upgrade the transportation fleet.
The excess levy provides funds for technology upgrades, such as the replacement of laptops for teachers or student computers; capital improvements, focused on major renovations or additions to existing schools; and infrastructure upgrades, to the existing Internet or utilities, he said.
Every year, the board of education is audited by the state auditor’s office. If the levy money isn’t spent in the current year, it still has to be used for the same types of purchases in the future.
Continued local support for public schools is essential.
This year’s Marion County enrollment figures showed a slight increase, and we’re hopeful they’ll continue to build in the future.
“We just hope that Marion County’s business outlook and the education outlook are both in the upturn for the future,” Price said. “As more jobs are provided, more people will be able to stay here.”
Opportunities for additional employment and the resulting growth won’t happen without a strong educational system.
We’re confident Marion County voters will continue to be excellent partners in the process.
It’s a Marion County tradition, and its people deserve to be proud.
Laws to keep mudslinging to minimum can stife free speech
By nature, and by profession, we do not like lies. As journalists, we’re truth tellers. Or at least we attempt to get at the truth through research, attribution, documents and comments from people on either side of an issue.
Sometimes it ends up with “telling lies from both sides,” as a crusty reporter once mused a handful of years ago.
COLUMN: Freedom of Information — if you can pay
Several years ago, I made a Freedom of Information request to a local government agency. Within the five business days, as required by law, a packet of information was delivered to the office. I expected a bill, as most government offices have a charge that ranges from 25 cents to $1.25 per page for copies of the documents we request.
The reassuring spirit of Easter: One of new hope and beginnings
During the sub-zero and snow-filled months of winter, we maintained a spirit of hope that spring was on the way. It has now become a reality as all nature stretches and yawns and awakens once more to a new beginning. The fragrance of spring awakens our waiting nostrils, the budding beauty of new life brightens our eyes, and the reassuring idea of renewal stimulates our minds.
Unsung heroes handling calls in emergencies are appreciated
Thankfully, we live in a community where help is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, just by dialing three numbers — 9-1-1.
During this week, which is recognized as National Public Safety Tele-Communicator’s Week nationwide, we need to remember that on the other end of that line are the men and women here in this county who are always there in case of accident, crimes, medical emergencies and any other catastrophic event.
Message to ‘buckle up and park the phone’ is saving lives
A figure that we haven’t seen that much in recent years is the highway death toll for a given period.
Is the death toll up, down or just about the same as it was?
The West Virginia Southern Regional Highway Safety Program has announced there were 325 highway fatalities in 2013, the second-lowest number on record.
State native Burwell can ‘deliver results’ as Health and Human Services secretary
Sylvia Mathews Burwell might not be a name with which most people are immediately familiar.
For the past year, she has run the budget office under President Barack Obama.
Prior to that, she served as president of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Global Development Program and later the Wal-Mart Foundation.
Marion scores well in recent health report but could do better
When it comes to area-wide studies, especially on health, there’s usually good news and bad news.
So was the recent report on the health of America’s counties released by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation recently. The nationwide county study evaluated health outcomes and health factors, and ranked counties accordingly.
COLUMN: ‘Instant’ news not always reliable
That little word has a pretty big meaning. With origins that date back to the 15th century, it means urgent, current, immediate.
But think about how that word has developed over the past few decades.
Instant pudding. Instead of slaving over a hot stove for a few minutes, you can now pour cold milk and with a bit of stirring, instant pudding!
Decision to be an organ donor can save lives
Chelsea Clair watched as her father died waiting for a bone marrow transplant.
So when she met Kyle Froelich at a car show in 2009 and heard about his struggles to find a kidney that would match his unique needs, she never hesitated to offer hers to the man she just met.
Volunteers continue to have priceless impact on community
Chances are, you know someone who volunteers. Perhaps you’re a volunteer yourself.
Marion County is full of volunteers.
They read to our youth.
They assist nonprofit agencies.
They serve on boards and committees.
And in 2013, they spent a day picking up nearly 10 tons of garbage that had been tossed out on public property around Marion County.
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