NEW HAVEN — The upcoming excess levy renewal was the main focus of a Mason County Board of Education meeting Tuesday at New Haven Elementary School.
The meeting was the first of three that will be held across the county, aimed at educating the public on exactly what the excess levy currently supplies, and what it will provide if a renewal is passed on the May 8 primary election ballot.
A levy has continuously been in place in Mason County since 1950. It was noted the approval of the $7.5 million levy will not increase taxes for the citizens.
Superintendent of Schools Jack Cullen stated one of the top benefits of the levy is the extra staff it provides. Presently, 10 additional professional and 41 service personnel above what the state formula provides are employed with levy funds. Additional nurses, licensed practical nurses, aides for students with high needs, and counselors are among the positions above the state aid funding.
Textbooks, notebooks, instructional supplies like pencils, crayons and markers, and school library and media operating expenses are supplied by the levy. It also provides extra and co-curricular activities such as field trips, athletic competitions, academic competitions, art related activities, school bus transportation for these, and student drug testing.
School employees are given dental and vision insurance through the levy funds. Supplemental salaries and benefits for dual credit courses, athletic coaches, academic coaches, and after school bus/activities are also benefits.
Cullen said a large portion goes into maintaining and operating the facilities. Safety and security systems, maintenance and repair of buildings and grounds, equipment maintenance, utilities, and lease payments for major capital building improvements are all provided by the levy. Technology benefits are purchases, repairs and upgrades, software, and salary and benefits for computer technicians.
In addition to schools, the levy helps other agencies, Cullen said, all of which benefit students.
The levy includes $125,000 for the Mason County Sheriff’s Department to help pay for the PRO officers in the schools. A total of $37,500 to the Mason County Library, Cullen said, provides services like summer programs. The $25,000 to the WVU Extension Service benefits students through 4-H, and the sum of $12,500 to the Mason County Fair also helps students, he added.
The levy makes up about 18 percent of the county’s total operating budget. The current levy doesn’t expire until June 30, 2019, but by including the renewal vote on the primary ballot, it will save the school system approximately $50,000, which is the cost of a special Saturday election, Cullen said.
Those attending the meeting discussed ways with board members in getting the word out concerning the levy. Meetings will also be held at Leon Elementary on Jan. 23 and Ashton Elementary on Feb. 13.
(More on the regular business items from the meeting will be published in a later edition.)
Mindy Kearns is a freelance writer for Ohio Valley Publishing, email her at email@example.com.