Since first being approved by voters in 1964, the Mingo County Schools Excess Levy has never failed to gain the votes needed to keep it in force.
And school officials say they’re confident it will again be approved by voters when it comes up for decision on November 6.
However, due to the levy having never before been placed on general election ballot but instead always having been decided during a specially-held election, school officials admit they can’t help but be a little apprehensive as to the outcome this time around.
Officials said the decision to have the levy decided in November was due to the expense of holding a special election beforehand, which they said would have cost the school system around $70,000 that it couldn’t afford to spend at this time.
This is why the MCBE decided on the November general election. It is also why the board unanimously agreed at a workshop held earlier this week to begin educating Mingo County residents on the importance of the levy and how much of a financial blow it would have on the school system should it fail to pass a little more than a month from now.
Treasurer Beth Daniels identified some of the specific services provided by the levy — which remains in effect five years following its approval — and which ones the school system stands to lose if it fails to again gain passage.
Daniels said among the many services supported by the levy include personnel salary supplements, family vision and dental care, academic coaches, school nurses, band directors and wellness coaches, as well as department chairs for math, related arts, science, social studies, language arts and special education.
She said the levy also helps fund facilities repairs and renovations, school building maintenance and security, as well as textbooks, technology, instructional supplies and classroom furniture. The levy additionally supports educational opportunities for students and teachers, school athletics, along with community-based support programs such as WVU Extension Service’s 4-H and Energy Express.
“In general the levy is doing what it’s always done, just with $3 million less than in past years due to the economic situation in Mingo County being what it’s been for a while now,” she said. “The important thing residents need to keep in mind is this does not raise taxes, everything will stay the same as it has always been, but at the same time understand that it’s a great benefit to our students. It’s just a continuation of what’s been in place since 1964.”
Board President Sabrina Grace said the fact that the levy is going to be decided in the November General Election makes it incumbent upon school officials to promote its passage among school personnel as well as the community.
“I think people are just not informed enough and it’s always scary when people are not informed in the manner they should be,” she said. “It’s important that people in our community realize that if this doesn’t pass, what it means for our students … it means things for our employees definitely, but people also need to understand what it means for our students.”