Editorial: Voters should approve school excess levy
Public education is an important issue in this month's primary election.
Cabell County voters will be choosing several school board members, but just as importantly, they will consider a critical part of the school system's funding.
It will show up on your ballot as "Election to Authorize Renewal of Additional Levies," but what it really means to the school system is about $23.4 million that helps cover the cost of staffing, supplies and other education initiatives that state funds do not cover.
The "excess levy" was first passed by voters in 1954 and has been renewed every four years since. The rate will remain the same as it has been over the past 60 years, so property owners will not see any increase in taxes unless their home value rises.
The exact rates vary on the class of the property, but for the owner of a $94,500 home, the median value for Cabell County, the cost of the levy is about $260 per year.
Over the years, the levy has helped pay for a wide range of educational resources that help provide a better education. The list includes textbooks, library books, computer technology, support for food service programs, additional classroom teachers, athletic coaches, facility maintenance, equipment, supplies, staff development, extra duty assignments, dental and optical insurance, uniforms for service personnel and extra pay for cooks and custodians.
The levy also has strengthened the school district position in getting grants and appropriations from the West Virginia School Building Authority for construction projects such as the new Huntington East Middle School.
The levy also enhances educational and recreational opportunities for the whole community with funding that goes to Cabell County Library system and the Greater Huntington Parks & Recreation District. At current estimates, the levy provides about $1.4 million to the library and $440,000 to the park district.
Without the levy, the schools, library and the park system all would be faced with cutting vital services that residents have been accustomed to for years.
"If we were just looking at state levels of funding, we would have to look at suspending quite a few programs and initiatives we've had here," Superintendent Bill Smith said.
The smart thing for voters to do is invest in education and the futures of our Cabell County students.
In early voting over the next several days and on May 13, vote to renew the school excess levy.
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