MADISON – On Monday the Boone County Board of Education voted unanimously with a 5-0 vote to pass a budget with the directives handed down from the state to maintain local control.
This is in response to the July 15 decision by the W. Va. State Board of Education which voted for a state takeover of the Boone County School System with a 6-1 vote. They did provide a provision that if the Boone County Board of Education could pass a budget by Monday, July 18, they could maintain local control.
The resolution was presented by Lloyd Jackson II, Vice President of the W. Va. Board of Education. He said that the board postponed the vote because of the issues raised at the July 14 meeting.
“This is a very difficult thing for me. I can tell the people of Boone County that we wanted to vote on this yesterday but because of your comments we decided that we wanted to sleep on this,” Jackson said.
Jackson said that he does not want the state to takeover Boone County Schools, but he does believe the Boone County Board of Education is at fault.
“Your schoolboard has depleted your reserves to the point that you don’t have enough money to make it through the school year,” Jackson said, “Your board should never have let that happen to you. The teachers and service personnel are not to blame.”
Jackson said he believes the decision not to make cuts prior to the current school year were politically motivated.
“Those things should have been addressed over the past five years but they weren’t, people didn’t want to do it, it was politically too hard to do,” Jackson said.
State Board Member, James Wilson, said he can empathize with the Boone County Board of Education, but he said that he had no choice but to support this measure.
“I’m a 20 year veteran of local boards, I understand the emotions that they go through in making decisions like this. I’ve had to lay off people,” Wilson said, “I’ve been convinced after listening that [the current budget] would not have finished out the school year.”
The lone vote against the resolution belonged to State Board Member Thomas Campbell. He said that he had realized throughout these discussions that the only course of action the state has in these situations is to take over a school. He expressed concerns that they should perhaps try to find other options to handle budgetary issues.
“I’ve been torn over this, I respect everybody’s position on this, but I’m having a difficult time and I understand the concern of the students, but I’m not quite there yet,” Campbell said.
Another State Board Member, William White, said that he hopes the Boone County Board of Education will meet and decide to pass a balanced budget. He said that while the resolution was being read, he felt uncomfortable about the idea of state takeover.
“As soon as she read those words, there was a knot in my stomach because I know what it means, this is not something that is going to be taken over, balance the budget and given right back to you,” White said, “We’re talking about a couple of years of takeover and you lose your right to run your county.”
After the resolution was passed, State Superintendent Michael Martirano essentially begged the Boone County Board of Education to vote on a balanced budget to avoid state control.
“I implore you, go back and do your job, submit a balanced budget to the board and to me so we do not have to takeover Boone County,” Martirano said.