NEW HAVEN — During a special meeting held at New Haven Elementary School, the Mason County Board of Education discussed the renewal of the excess levy on the Nov. 6 ballot and their efforts on distributing levy information.
Superintendent Suzanne Dickens stated she had been traveling around the community distributing information on the excess levy to places such as the Mason County Library, the West Virginia Extension Office, and The Point Pleasant Register. Dickens also stated information regarding the levy will also be given to Mason County Schools staff and will be sent home with students.
According to the information provided by Dickens, the $8.5 million levy is a renewal of the current levy, which was passed on Nov. 4, 2008 and expires on June 30, 2014. It was stated this levy accounts for around 18 percent of the county’s total operating budget and will increase taxes approximately $2.88 per month for the average homeowner when comparing it to the current levy. It was also stated this levy has continuously been in place since May 24, 1950.
The funds provided by the levy, if passed, will go to support the following areas of Mason County Schools:
Professional and Service Salary Supplements and Benefits — This includes $2,060,228 that will go towards salaries, dental, vision, long-term disability for school staff, $335,000 which will fund school nurses, and $286,000 which will provide for athletic coaches.
Textbooks, Supplies, and Equipment — This area includes $900,000 going toward instructional supplies, and $750,000 going towards textbooks, software and related materials. Other materials included in this area are writing, notebook, duplicating, and construction paper, pencils, markers, and crayons, accident insurance for all students during school and school related activities, and the school library/media operating expenses.
Extra and Co-curricular activities — $290,000 of the excess levy will fund this area which includes field trips, school athletic competitions, school academic competitions, arts related activities, and student drug testing.
Maintaining and Operating School Facilities — This category will receive $2,750,000 from the excess levy and includes sub-categories such as safety and security systems, maintenance and repair of buildings/grounds, equipment maintenance, and utilities including Internet, electric, telephone, gas, water, and sewer.
Technology — $180,000 from the excess levy will fund technology purchases, repairs, and upgrades, as well as technology software.
Student Transportation — $600,000 of the excess levy will go towards fuel for school buses, as well as bus and vehicle maintenance and replacement.
County agencies — Several other outside agencies will also receive funds from the excess levy, $100,000 going to the Sheriff’s Department and the school’s Prevention Resource Officers (PRO), $30,000 to the Mason County Library, $20,000 to the WV Cooperative Extension, and $10,000 to the Mason County Fair.
Also speaking to the board during the meeting was New Haven Elementary Principal Stacy Bissell and Wahama High School Principal Kenny Bond. Bissell updated board members on activities and programs at New Haven Elementary, describing New Haven’s Tiger Stripe Program. Bissell explained when students behave properly they receive a tiger stripe and there is a competition among the different classrooms to have the most tiger stripes. Bissell also discussed their efforts to increase the students’ math scores since New Haven did not meet Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) standards last school year. Bissell said New Haven started having math stations and are emphasizing practical math, as a way to not have students stuck learning only from a textbook.
Bond spoke to the board members regarding plans to possibly replace a section of bleachers at Wahama High School. Bond also mentioned potential plans for the addition of another weight room, and possibly moving the Wahama’s baseball field to New Haven as a way to help improve the maintenance and upkeep of the football field. Bond also mentioned all of Wahama’s dusk to dawn lights are working properly, a concern board members discussed at previous meetings. Board members also discussed the possibility of building a new football stadium for Wahama.
In addition to Superintendent Dickens, board members present included Thomas Nunnery, Randy Searls, Greg Fowler, Paul Sayre, and Dale Shobe.
The Mason County Board of Education will meet again for a regular business meeting at 6 p.m. on Nov. 13, at the Mason County Career Center.
(Note: More on the approved agenda and personnel items from this meeting will appear in a later edition.)