Wood Schools watching government shutdown

PARKERSBURG — Wood County Schools administrators said the month-long partial shutdown of the federal government has not affected local schools … yet.

The partial government shutdown, which Monday entered its 31st day, is the longest in U.S. history. About 460,000 federal employees are working without pay and thousands more have been furloughed indefinitely.

Hollie Best, director of child nutrition for Wood County Schools, said state officials have told county-level programs to continue as normal.

“I will continue feeding the students of Wood County,” Best said.

A letter sent to food service directors earlier this month by Amanda Harrison, executive director of the West Virginia Office of Child Nutrition, said no disruptions are expected this month and next.

“Currently, there are not any anticipated delays or disruptions to normal child nutrition operations,” Harrison said in the letter. “The U.S. Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Service has provided State Agencies with additional available appropriated funding. These funds, along with those previously provided, can support program operations at normal levels well into the month of March.”

All current reporting deadlines were still in place and all programs should be operated as normal, she said. Harrison said updates would be made if more information became available.

John McKown, director of federal programs for Wood County Schools, said so far there has been no indication of when or how Title I programs or other programs dependent on federal funding might be affected.

“In a normal year there is variance in when federal budgets are released to the states, so the shutdown may affect this,” McKown said. “However, the state Department of Education has not put out any information to this effect.”

McKown directed further questions to the state, saying all of the local “budget timelines and procedures are dictated by the State Department of Education.”

Officials at the West Virginia Department of Education could not be reached for comment.