Barbour County's superintendent of schools said Thursday voters are the voices for the county's students, and urged adults to support the excess levy and bond call while voting in the Nov. 6 election.
In an open forum for the Barbour County excess levy and bond proposal at Crim United Methodist Church in Philippi Thursday, Dr. Joseph Super said every aspect of the levy is either directly or indirectly related to kids.
"We're trying to be good stewards, with not only the money that we have, but knowing that we're asking our community for more money to keep our school systems going," Super said.
"All I ask is that people take a hard look, know the facts," he said. "We can't do it without you."
Super said he and the county Board of Education asked members in all of the county's school communities what they want from the school board and what they were willing to support.
"The items in the bond and the levy are the fruit of that," Super said.
Super said that he and the school board are not trying to hide the fact that the levy is an increase in taxes. A tax calculator is available on the Barbour Citizens for Quality Schools website for anyone who would like to get an estimate of how his or her taxes could be affected.
The website is www.barbourcitizensforqualityschools.com.
The levy also has the potential to provide children with free breakfast and lunch, which is contingent upon eligibility requirements. The county is required to have 40 percent of students be directly certified by April and is currently at 39.33 percent.
Directly certified kids include children who are homeless, live in substandard housing, live with multiple families in a single-family house, or have been kicked out of their homes. If eligibility is met, the county is reimbursed, which allows all children to be fed breakfast and lunch at no cost each day. If the qualification is not met, the funds raised by that line in the levy will be evenly distributed among the remaining lines.
"This last line in the levy is crucial to our kids. And we know when they're fed and their bellies are satisfied, they're better students all the way around," Super said.
In the state, 44 counties have levies and 22 have bonds for school projects, Super said. Barbour County was facing a decline in school enrollment. The state funding formula for each school is based on enrollment. Barbour County spends about $5,800 per child and currently ranks 48th out of 55 West Virginia counties on per pupil expenditures.
"When we have kids in school and we reduce our drop-outs, we can expect an increase in our test scores," Super said.
Now, test scores are rising, the enrollment rate is starting to increase, and the drop-out rate is beginning to decrease. "We want to keep that trend," Super said.