CHARLESTON, W.VA. — Boone County Schools have officially been funded until the end of the 2015-2016 fiscal year. The West Virginia legislature recently passed a bill that will allocate $2.2 million to allow Boone County Schools to pay their staff and faculty. 7th District Senator, Ron Stollings, said obtaining this funding was more of a challenge then he had expected.
“It was a harder fight then it should have been,” Senator Stollings said, “After some education and after me discussing all the money that Boone County have given the state of West Virginia, it became less and less of an issue. “
Senator Stollings said he was afraid that, with the rest of the state also having financial problems this year, legislators would think of this request as the beginning of many more loans from the state. He said that it took the work of every legislator from this part of the state.
“As soon as I found out about it, I contacted other people, because anyone that represented Boone County needed to be involved. It was for the most part a team effort,” Senator Stollings said.
Senator Stollings said one additional challenge was that the House Representative from Boone County was out of town during this process and this delegate was forced to do much of his work from a long distance. Ultimately, the measure passed 32-0 in the State Senate and by a majority of the House. Stollings said he had expected this to be an easy vote, because each year over the past ten years Boone County has contributed two percent to the state’s general revenue budget. This amount ranged anywhere from $45 million to $78 million every year.
“Then here we have to come and scrape for $2 million because of a miscalculation in the share,” Stollings said, “It was frustrating to me, but at the same time I’m thankful that the Governor put it on the agenda, that my colleagues in the Senate unanimously supported it and the majority of the House supported it.”
While the allocation of these funds do provide a bright spot for Boone County Schools, the current Superintendent, John Hudson, said he still has fears for the upcoming school year.
“I just think as unpredictable as this year was, it does concern me, with the loss of student enrollment. It is just going to be a tough time for Southern West Virginia, especially our district,” Hudson said.
Hudson said this problem began with the bankruptcy of Alpha Natural Resources, which caused the schools to lose $7 million more than they had expected. Hudson believes it will be better in the coming year, because the school system will be able to receive aid in the new fiscal year, but they will be starting out in the negative. He knows they will have to consider other ways for Boone County Schools to reduce costs.
“I am sure we will look at every possible thing, be it layoffs, school closures, or any other cost saving measure,” Hudson said.