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School levies pass in Berkeley, Jefferson counties

By Staff | Nov 5, 2010

MARTINSBURG – Voters in Berkeley and Jefferson counties approved the renewal of their county school systems’ special excess levies on election night Tuesday.

According to complete but unofficial results, Berkeley County voters approved the levy renewal, with 13,338 votes in favor (56.75 percent) and 10,164 votes against (43.25 percent), while Jefferson County voters approved the levy renewal with 9,260 votes in favor (61.25 percent) and 5,859 votes against (38.75 percent).

Thanks to the renewal of the Berkeley County levy, which has been in effect in the county since 1948, the school board can continue to provide instructional materials, technology and textbooks to the county’s approximate 18,000 students, said Berkeley County Schools Superintendent Manny Arvon.

Arvon added that the levy provides approximately $29.4 million, or 17 percent, for the school system’s operations budget and also provides funds for salary supplements and benefits for Berkeley County school employees. In regard to teacher salaries, levy funds account for about 18 percent of an average teacher salary and about 19 percent for an average service personnel’s salary.

“I’m very happy with the results of the levy,” Arvon said. “I’m so appreciative that once again, the citizens of Berkeley County have stepped up to support our school system and our students. The continuation of the levy is critical to the success of the school district.”

In Jefferson County, the renewal of the levy that’s been in place since 1946 promises funds for the fiscal years of July 2011 through July 2015 in the amount of $100,476,560, which is needed to maintain and improve the instructional programs and operation of school services in Jefferson County Schools.

According to Susan Wall, JCS superintendent, levy funds will maintain and improve the instructional programs and operation of school services in Jefferson County, including salary supplements, stipends and personnel not funded by state aid; employee benefits and professional development; compensation for substitute employees; school allocations; instructional materials; support for local public libraries; and support for WVU Extension Services to community and schools.

Board President Pete Dougherty said that he is pleased with the renewal of the levy, especially considering that schools within Jefferson County continue to expand to accommodate rising student enrollment.

“It’s a wonderful day,” Dougherty said. “Given all the false statements surrounding the levy issue, we’re thrilled so many people saw through those (statements) and gave a vote of confidence to the students and employees of Jefferson County. This gives us the ability to continue to do what we’ve been doing – improving the quality of education.”