Barbour County Board of Education members hope the community will show support for education by voting in favor of the proposed excess levy and bond call on the Nov. 6 ballot.
"What we're trying to do is look forward and learn from history, so that moving forward is positive for the community, students, faculty and staff," Board Vice President Eric Ruf said. "We're trying to make the school system stronger and just improve on what we have."
"This levy is to help meet the actual costs of educating our youth," Board President Bob Wilkins said.
The county's budget is determined through a state formula, and Ruf said that formula doesn't always allow the school system to do everything the state Board of Education asks, requires or expects.
"Those dollars just aren't there. We're asked to do a lot of things with what we have and sometimes, we're required to do certain things, but they're not funded," Ruf said. "Sometimes the checkbook doesn't go as far as you want it to."
If passed, the excess levy and bond will help Barbour County Schools with needed maintenance repairs and upgrades; help educate students in a fast-paced technological world; provide school supplies that supplement learning; help support 4-H and other programs with educational benefits to students and others within the county; and much more, officials said.
The Board of Education asks that citizens not think of the excess levy and bond as two separate items, with school maintenance being one reason. If the bond passes without the levy, it could cause a burden on the school budget to maintain the proposed changes to the athletic facility.
Passing the excess levy and the bond call are equally important, officials said.
"All these extracurricular things are important for a well-rounded education," board member Joanne McConnell said.
The levy could provide job opportunities for additional personnel as well as help students be better prepared for jobs in the future, board members said.
"The bond and levy are linked to jobs like gravy is to biscuits," Wilkins said. "Employers want an educated work force. You can't be serious about jobs if you're not serious about providing a good school system."
Employee benefits provided in the county could help keep educators teaching in Barbour County instead of finding better opportunities elsewhere. The retention and recruitment of good employees could aid the education of Barbour County students, officials said.
The levy could also help employees receive no more than $100 reimbursement each year for medical expenses, as an added employment incentive.
Students graduating from Barbour County, as with any county, will need a current understanding of today's technology to compete with others in the job market, and the excess levy could improve technology in the schools, board members said.
"Technology is part of our everyday lives. It is a high cost item and it's not something that just comes to us fully through state funds," McConnell said.
Ruf said the county has been "pretty creative" when making do with the current budget. He said the levy could help Barbour County schools shine.
"I think we've reached a point in our school system that if we want to go to the next level and add some of these things the levy will support, that's what we're going to have to do," Ruf said.
"We're just going to have to count on our communities to support it and help us get to that next level. We wouldn't be asking if it wasn't important enough for us to ask for it now."
Digital renderings of the proposed renovations to the Philip Barbour High School athletic facility are available online, among other details at www.barbourcitizensforqualityschools.com.
Contact Melissa Toothman by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.