BUCKHANNON — Upshur County Schools Superintendent Dr. Sara Lewis-Stankus accepted a position with the West Virginia Department of Education (WVDE) as a deputy superintendent. Stankus was recognized and celebrated for providing years of service to Upshur County Schools at the Buckhannon City Council meeting on Thursday, August 18.
Buckhannon Mayor Robbie Skinner called the meeting to order, which followed with a traditional moment of silence. Mayor Skinner then invited Dr. Stankus to lead those in attendance in the Pledge of Allegiance, to which Dr. Stankus replied, “I’d be honored, thank you,” before beginning the pledge.
Mayor Skinner then said, “I do believe congratulations are in order. If you have not seen the press release, our very own Dr. Sara Lewis- Stankus will be leaving her post as Superintendent of Upshur County Schools… and will be taking an administrative upper-level position with the West Virginia State School Board, so we are very proud of you and proud that you’ll be representing Upshur County and putting us further on the map at the state school board. She told me in a text message yesterday that she is not relocating from Upshur County. She’s going to stay right here as she has some statewide travel, so what better place to travel from than from right here in the central part of the state, so congratulations we’re very, very proud.”
Dr. Lewis-Stankus reponded, “Thank you Mayor and council for having us tonight.” Dr. Stankus went on to discuss how Buckhannon’s therapy dog was the only one out of seven other therapy dogs presented with a key to their respective cities after she and other Upshur County School personnel visited the WVDE in Charleston earlier in the day.
Dr. Lewis-Stankus mentioned other business to discuss, including the levy which expires in July of 2024. She invited to the podium with her Mr. Jeffrey Perkins, who serves as the Upshur County Schools Treasurer/School Business official to discuss the timeline and further details. However, before Perkins discussed any details, Dr. Lewis-Stankus said, “One of the things that I believe is really important for our public to understand is the difference between a bond and a levy. I’m a pretty simple person so I think of it in simple terms is bonds are for buildings and levies are for learning. Levies support things like instructional materials, technology, capital improvement and contracted services. All are very important, as well as our pro-officers, who are included in that, and also our tech services and extracurricular bus trips.
“So right now, our sports teams do not have to raise the extra money or funding to pay for their bus trips. Now, if we didn’t have the levy, that could be different. Our community library and our county library, we give them $100,000 each year. The 4-H and extension office, Stockert Youth Center, all those community organizations that are so important to our students our children. And let’s face it, our children in Upshur County, those belong to all of us, so all of us are trying to invest and pour into those children and so one of the things.
“When students and families move from other counties, they call us and they’ll ask what we need to bring to school and when we tell them we all of your materials are paid for, our county taxpayers pay for a levy and you don’t have to buy anything textbooks, paper, any kind of materials, pencils. Our students come to school and we provide all of that. Many of you even know that the Parish House provides backpacks to our students so our students are really well-prepared. Our community has taken care of their children and I’m really proud of the way Upshur County loves their children. I really am proud to say that and some of you may remember the day where families had to buy textbooks. We just adopted a new science textbook across K-12 and the high school textbook was $91. That’s one textbook and so the levy also covers the textbook expense.”
There was also more information and details elaborated within documentation provided to council members by Mr. Perkins. Council members and public attendees questioned the use of funds to which Mr. Perkins explained, “Something interesting that I came across as doing this, the number five years ago or the value of the property and the amount of money it would make was within $18,000 of what’s projected. I will also share with you that almost every year, this year included, we collect more than what’s projected. That’s because people buy newer vehicles over old ones and it takes a while for that to catch up. The actual calculated number through the state auditor’s office has only increased $18,000 in five years and I will tell you things are much more expensive now than they were five years ago. The supplement is used for these items.”