The West Virginia Board of Education has voted to take control of the Boone County district unless county school board members approve a balanced budget by Monday.
The state board says in a news release that it empathized with district's financial situation but concluded that it has to step in. All West Virginia county boards of education are statutorily obligated to budget sufficient funds to assure that the specified minimum employment and instructional terms are provided.
“The State Board has no desire to intervene in Boone County,” says State Board President Mike Green. “The Boone County Board of Education left the State Board with no other option but to intervene to provide a mechanism that allows for a full instructional term for our students and ensures sufficient funds to pay employees for the entire school year.”
In a final attempt to allow Boone County to retain local control, Green encouraged the Boone County board to call an emergency meeting to present a balanced budget.
State Schools Superintendent Michael Martirano had directed the Boone County board to make certain reductions to arrive at a balanced budget. Board members refused to adhere to those directives, so the district is without a budget for fiscal 2017.
WV Metro News reported that the proposed reductions included about 35 layoffs, as well as pay and benefit cuts. Boone County has been hit hard by the downturn of the coal industry and has lost $9.3 million in property tax revenue in recent months.
Martirano recommended that the state board intervene.
“I cannot, in good conscience or by operation of law, approve a budget that does not ensure that the Boone County Board of Education can provide students with a full instructional term and pay teachers for a full 200 days of employment,” Martirano says.
“We cannot ignore the economic realities faced by Boone County, and we must act now to ensure the student of Boone County are in school are teachers are paid for the entirety of the 2016-2017 school year.”