Schools see election day success, disappointment
PARKERSBURG — Several area school systems passed levies and bonds Tuesday, though a levy in Calhoun County failed by less than 200 votes.
Both Wood and Pleasants counties successfully passed operating levies which fund additional positions and supplemental programs.
Wood County voters approved a five-year continuing levy, with more than 72 percent of the ballots cast in favor of renewal.
The continuing levy was originally approved in 1945 and will be renewed for the 2019-20 school year through the 2023-24 school year. The levy annually generates more than $18 million for Wood County Schools. It also provides funding for Wood County libraries, the WVU Extension Service and Artsbridge.
About $14 million of the levy goes toward additional positions, such as reading and math intervention specialists, Prevention Resource Officers and school nurses. The levy includes $500,000 allocated for safety and security at the schools, which would include facility improvements or security systems, among other things.
Pleasants County Schools five-year, $3 million continuing levy passed 1,536 for and 949 against. The levy was first approved in 1954.
“I’m very thankful the levy passed because, bottom line, it is for our kids,” said Superintendent Michael Wells. “It is important that we continue to provide the support and services our students depend on.”
Wells said the levy also funds several programs and entities outside of the school system which support children and the community, such as the district’s technical center, public library and Boys and Girls Club. It also funds additional academic programs, such as Energy Express during the summer and after-school tutoring, he said.
“The levy is 19.4 percent of our operating budget, so it is very significant to Pleasants County Schools,” Wells said. “I’m just thankful for our public and our community, and thankful for those that participated and helped us get the word out.”
Roane County voters approved a $9.7 million facilities bond with 2,278 votes for and 1,878 votes against. The 15-year bond will pay for improvements at Roane County High School, Geary Elementary/Middle School, Spencer Middle School, Spencer Elementary School and Walton Elementary/Middle School.
The projects will include Safe School entries and security upgrades at each school, re-roofing and related improvements at each school, re-paving parking lots and roads and repair of sidewalks at each school, new HVAC cooling towers at Roane High and Spencer Elementary, and the planning and design of a new Spencer Middle School.
“Certainly, we’re excited,” said Superintendent Richard Duncan. “We’ve had some struggles in the past with school levies, so to see this go on the first try is really great.”
Duncan said the proposed projects were part of a “community-driven process” to identify needs within the schools and to generate support for the bond. Duncan said work on the schools likely will begin in the spring and summer months.
“It’s an exciting time for us and for our students,” he said.
Calhoun County Schools was not as fortunate in Tuesday’s general election. The district’s proposed levy failed with a vote of 1,120 against and 953 for passage. Officials said the two-year levy was intended to move the district’s fifth-graders back into the elementary schools, provide free sports passes to Calhoun residents, and provide funding for maintenance and upkeep of facilities.
Superintendent Kelli Whytsell could not be reached for comment Wednesday.