Boone County School board agrees to cut benefits and supplemental salaries

By Matt Maccaro in News
MADISON, W.Va. — The Boone County Board of Education voted unanimously on Monday to make the cuts necessary to avoid a takeover by the state Dept. of Education.

Nearly $6 million dollars in cuts means that employees in the district will see about a $175 salary reduction in supplemental pay per paycheck, as well as the elimination of dental and vision benefits.

“We commend the Boone County board for making this difficult decision, certainly recognizing that this was a difficult decision impacting the benefits of its employees,” said WVDE Executive Communications Director Kristin Anderson. “No jobs are being lost, which is very positive.”

The state board set a deadline last week for Monday for the BCS board to approve a reasonable budget, or else face a state takeover.

“We did not want to have to intervene in Boone County,” Anderson said. “We’re always supportive of local control and empowering the local county boards to maintain control. So we commend and applaud the action that was taken today.”

Anderson expressed the hope that Boone County, which has been particularly hit hard by the downturn of the coal industry, could soon restore the lost benefits to its employees.

“We’re hopeful that this cut in benefits is temporary, it’s not something that we see as being a permanent solution. Hopefully once the county finances are back in order, some of these benefits can be restored.”

New Boone County Superintendent of Schools Jeff Huffman took over the post from John Hudson on July 1. The school board had previously rejected state directives twice before voting for a budget on Monday.

State Superintendent Dr. Michael Martirano had estimated that the original Boone County School budget submitted to the state was about $7 million short and would run out of money during Fiscal Year ’17 sometime next spring.

State School Board President Mike Green issued a statement Monday on the Boone County School board’s budget passage.

“I commend the Boone County Board of Education and its Superintendent, Jeff Huffman, for making extremely difficult decisions that were caused, in large part, by factors beyond its control,” part of the statement read. “The Board’s action preserved its right to maintain local control and move forward as they see best for their county.”

During the special legislative session on the state budget, Boone County Schools was allocated $2.1 million by the legislature and the governor to cover its Fiscal Year ’16 obligations.