BUCKHANNON — The city council has started the process of officially endorsing the proposed renewal of the school levy, which has not been done in recent history.
Dr. Sara Stankus the Superintendant of Upshur County Schools was at the Nov. 15 city council meeting to share information on the levy and to remind everyone to vote Jan. 19, 2019 to renew the levy. Mayor David McCauley said previous councils would stay out of levy elections because it was too political.
“I’m not aware in my 36-year association with the city council ever having supported a levy before, I had advanced in previous administrations, and there was a sort of a shying away from we don't want to be political,” McCauley said. “Well, this is a political body and I think there isn’t any reason that we shouldn’t consider that. I would like to place that on our agenda for one of our December meetings to entertain this council’s support for the school levy.”
Stankus said she has been going to various organizations across the county to talk about the levy and illustrate how much it supports in the school system.
“This is about 10 percent of our school budget, which means it's about $3.2 million a year from this community that we collect for our schools and for children,” Stankus said.
“As I said before, we believe in what we're doing, and we appreciate what this community is giving to us.”
Stankus said the levy pays for the Preveention Resource Officers in the high school and middle school.
“Those people are so effective in the schools, Stankus said. “Students come to them and talk to them about things they wouldn't tell their teachers.”
Stankus said the levy also provides students with technology, instructional materials, improving libraries, extra curricular activities, busing and free passes to senior citizens to school functions. Stankus said this levy would also add active military and veterans so they can also get into school functions for free.
“I'm really proud that our school system is putting this in just as another way to say thank you to these folks who have sacrificed so deeply,” Stankus said.
Stankus said while the levy may change, the cost from the community does not.
“While we're adding some things to the levy, and reevaluating how we spend those dollars, the levy will not be increased at all,” Stankus said. “We’re a conservative community. We don't even have a bond out for building schools right now, but we need money to maintain the schools and the levy allows that.”
Stankus said the levy allows students to not have to worry about the cost of basic supplies.
“When students come to the classroom we tell them, they don't have to bring paper, they don't have to bring pencils and they don't have to buy textbooks and that's huge,” Stankus said.
“Maybe some of you can remember the day when you had to buy a textbook. We're really blessed to not have to do that here in our community.”
Councilman Robbie Skinner said he remembered a time when Upshur County did not have a levy.
“I'm the only one on the table that is a graduate of Buckhannon-Upshur High School itself, and I went all the way from kindergarten at Academy all the way through the high school,” Skinner said.
“I can remember in third grade, we did not have a levy and parents got together to photocopy textbooks because there was only one textbook available for our classroom. We couldn't take a textbook home to do homework so that section was Xeroxed from a parent volunteer. They would go down to the office and Xerox copy after copy after copy, so that we could take stuff home to do homework that was in my third-grade class at the Intermediate School. So this is crucial, we can't go back to that.”