What to know about Upshur County school levy


BUCKHANNON — Upshur County Board of Education authorizes continuation of additional levies in the amount of $3,248,000. It is reported that the current levy rate will not increase. The levy renewal consists of fiscal years which begin on July 01 of 2024, 2025, 2026, 2027 and 2028. Read more below to learn about levies and the Upshur County School Levy Renewal election coming up on the November 8 ballot.

Funding of schools can be complicated. There are basically three main sources of funding including state funding which covers basic education, bonds and levies. If state funds are not enough to cover the costs of operating a school district then bonds and levies are utilized to bridge the gap. It is important to clarify the difference between bonds and levies. Bonds are long-term investments that authorize school districts to purchase property, build  and/or modernize schools. Bonds are sold to investors who are repaid with interest from property tax collections over time typically a period of 12 to 20 years. Levies are a property tax as well is they are used to generate revenue to fund programs and services that are not covered by state funds. Sometimes the term “replacement levy” is used and simply refers to the renewal of an existing school levy that is about to expire. When a school district asks voters to approve the renewal or “replacement levy”, it typically means it is the continuation of an existing tax.

With the above information, it can be easier for one to understand how the levies work. Levies do include specific purposes. Upshur County Schools released information declaring the purpose for which additional funds are needed which are as follows:

• Instructional programs, supplies, materials (including $200 per classroom teacher). Items may include textbooks, library books, essential school materials and equipment as well as programs such as summer school and alternative education programs 

• Technology access and improvement which may include the purchase or lease of hardware and software as well as technology specialists and support services

• Capital improvements and preventative maintenance which may include safety and security improvements as well as general building maintenance including HVAC 

• Contracted services such as Prevention Resource Officer (PRO), tech services and athletic trainers and bus expenses for extracurricular activities and field trips 

• Community support such as county libraries, 4-H and extension offices and Stockert Youth Center. 

• Annual passes for students and families to Upshur County Recreational Park and West Virginia Wildlife Center 

• Upshur County Student Accident Insurance.

• Substitute Employees

• Student Related Community Services

• Extracurricular Activities and Extended Employee Agreements

It is noted that Upshur County students, active service and veteran military residents and residents 60 years of age or older receive free admission to all regular school extracurricular events in Upshur County with a school issued pass. 

Further details regarding the levy include that Upshur County students and staff are impacted by the special levy dollars and that currently 9% of the general expense budget comes from levy funds. Documentation provided by Upshur County Schools elaborates that the levy allows the continuation of the above bulleted information. It was also noted by Upshur County Schools that, “monies generated by the levy can only be sued for expenditures specified on the ballot.” 

Upshur County Schools shared how Upshur County’s levy rate compares to other counties in West Virginia. They declared the following. 

• 39 of the 55 West Virginia counties have voter approved excess levies. 

• 24 out of the 39 levies in place are above the Upshur County tax rate. 

• Overall, Upshur County ranks 25 among W.Va. counties in local taxpayer contributions to education. 

Documentation obtained from the West Virginia Department of Education revealed that Upshur County Schools excess levy rates are as follows. 

• Class I property - $9.83

• Class II property - $19.66

• Class III property- $ 39.32

• Class IV property- $ 39.32

Upshur County Schools has supported the special school excess levy since 1999. The current levy is scheduled to expire in June of 2023. The levy impacts Buckhannon-Upshur High School, Buckhannon-Upshur Middle School, Buckhannon Academy Elementary School, French Creek Elementary School, Hodgesville Elementary School, Rock Cave Elementary School, Tennerton Elementary School, Union Elementary School, Washington District Elementary School and Fred Eberle Technical Center. 

The levy election will be on Tuesday, November 8 with the polls open from 6:30 a.m. through 7:30 p.m. The registration deadline for voting is Tuesday, October 18. Early voting runs Monday through Friday starting October 22 to November 5 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Public levy meetings are also being held in Upshur County as noted below. 

• Tuesday September 27 at 5:30 p.m. at Hodgesville Elementary School.

• Tuesday October 11 at 5:30 p.m. at French Creek Elementary School. 

• Tuesday October 25 at 5:30 p.m. at Washington District Elementary School. 

For questions or more information, contact Upshur County Schools by calling (304) 472-5480, visiting in-person at 102 Smith Field Street or online at https://www.upshurschools.com.

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