Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local News

June 28, 2013

Tazewell schools’ need for cuts deceases

TAZEWELL, Va. — The Tazewell County School Board will not have to make as many drastic cuts following a decision by the county’s Board of Supervisors Thursday to provide the school system funds to the tune of $15 million.

The board unanimously voted to provide the school board with $14.75 million — above the originally proposed $13.7 million — with an additional one-time allocation of $266,000 for a total of $15 million. The board said the funding was made possible after a $2.62 million surplus in the county budget was discovered through additionally collected revenues.

Eastern District Supervisor Charles Stacy said he wanted the school board to understand the additional funding is not guaranteed for subsequent school years.

“The concern is an allocation this year is considered recurring money. This is not that. This is new money we found that we were not expecting. The school board has indicated they understand and will acknowledge that any additional funds are a one-time opportunity and will not be available next year. The state and federal government are getting out of the public education basis and we have to find out how to run it without them,” Stacy said.

School Board Vice President Steve Davis said the funding allocated would still mean cuts for the school board, but not as dire as under the originally proposed budget.  

“It would be pretty painful, but it wouldn’t be a nuclear option or very dramatic,” he said. “It would be things that wouldn’t be as apparent to the general public; cuts to resources, cuts to programs. I don’t want to come across as these not being meaningful cuts. As we all know, due to no fault of our own we have endured a lot of budget cuts in these areas already. We are seeing impact of years and years of significant cuts. We sometimes lose personnel through attrition and are constantly looking to see if we need to replace personnel or not. We would have savings through attrition, retirements and finding a couple small pots of money we can use for one time. The other portion of the cuts would be to resources and programs.”

Davis said he hoped the school board and board of supervisors could partner in the future to help resolve budgetary issues before they arise, especially in a climate of increased state and federal education cuts.

“Obviously, we would like to have more money and I appreciate the transparency of the board,” he said. “I think both sides have been very transparent and we are all on the same page in terms of realizing where we are at and where we want to be. Now we just have to come up with best solutions to get there. Every cent of the money we ask for we need, and not to do anything lavishly or to waste anything but just to keep our school system going strong. The two big issues are the budget and the future. We want to take care of now, but we also need to start planning ahead and not wait until it becomes a crisis. We have had to look at helping the school system become as efficient as possible. We have so many great needs somewhere else.”

Board of Supervisors Vice Chairman Mike Hymes thanked the school board for agreeing to keep agricultural programs going in schools.

“We wrote the school board a letter at the request of the farm bureau that they fund Bob Moss’s position as an agricultural instructor,” Hymes said. “We received a statement back that the school board has committed to retain that position in their budget, fund it and fill the job because they know that Tazewell is an agricultural based county. I want to thank the farm bureau for their support and bringing that to our attention.”

Additionally, the board previously approved $95,000 to allow students current in the LPN Nursing program to complete their term of study as the program is phased out.

In other business, the board voted unanimously to approve the overall county budget and setting a merchants capital tax rate at $3.80 per $100 as opposed to the current $4.30 per $100 of assessed value. All other taxes and levies remained the same.

— Contact Kate Coil at kcoil@bdtonline.com

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