Senate Passes Boone County Schools Funding Bill
While the House took up the budget Monday, the Senate passed a bill that puts a little more than $2 million from state reserves into the Boone County Board of Education.
Senate Bill 1010 is a supplemental appropriation that would take money from general revenue and state reserves to help the Boone County school system get back on its feet after a decline in tax revenue this fiscal year.
The decline was largely due to bankruptcies of three major coal companies in the county. In fact, the decline topped at an unexpected $9 million.
To combat the loss in revenue, Boone County tried to ease the blow by cutting more than $2 million in expenses, closing three elementary schools, laying off 80 teachers and service personnel, and finding more than $6 million in savings.
But it wasn’t enough, so the county asked help from lawmakers – if nothing came from the Legislature, teachers in Boone would not receive a paycheck on June 24.
Senate Bill 1010 was the answer, but many lawmakers who opposed it saw it as a “bailout.”
During the Senate’s afternoon floor session Monday, Senator Art Kirkendoll, a Democrat from Logan County, spoke on the bill as senators were about to vote.
“I know the concept of the bill, when it first become apparent to the legislative bodies; I heard the word used called bailout, and even if it was a bailout, I would feel a little remorse about it. But I know when I become a Senator here in November 2011, the first three or four pieces of legislation I supported was legislation for the cracker plant, TIFF projects for Morgantown; the first four or five major pieces of legislation was to support the northern part of the state. We’re all West Virginians. I never ever considered backing down on support of anything in the northern part, the Eastern Panhandle, or anywhere else. It’s not a bailout. To me it’s a support system for saying thank you to a county; we’re gonna give you an opportunity to fix this.”
Senate Bill 1010 ultimately passed 32 to 0. Boone County would have to pay the money back over time, but for now, teachers in the county are more likely to see their paychecks.
The bill now goes to the House for consideration.