The Times West Virginian

Opinion

September 8, 2013

Marion County should take pride in strong support of public education

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.

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