Budget problems in Logan County schools could result in teacher, Junior ROTC cuts

By Alex Thomas in News
LOGAN, W.Va. — Seventy teachers may be cut from Logan County Schools, according to a proposal put forward Thursday by Logan County Board of Education president Paul Hardesty.

Tax revenue for Logan County schools has fallen from $23.4 million in 2015 to $20.5 million last year.

Hardesty said another problem the board is facing is problems related to overspending by the previous county board.

“Logan County [Schools] in 2014 had an unrestricted cash account balance of about $23 million,” he said. “Through capital outlay, excessive spending, overtime, many personnel service positions over formula, we just got to where we were spending more than we were taking in.”
“If we keep spending like we’re spending, for fiscal year 2017-2018, we’ll have a zero unrestricted balance.”

The next fiscal year’s budget will be around $90 million, according to Hardesty.

Since 2013, the county has gone from 27 positions more than the state school aid funding formula allows to around 90 currently. This is despite tax revenues and enrollments declining during that same period.

Hardesty, who became board president in July 2016, said the previous board continuously paid for projects that the previous board failed to fully make transparent.

“They did a capital project for a small grade school, put four classrooms in a small gymnasium,” he said. “Initially budgeted at $2.3 million, now at $4.2 million because they ran into construction problems.”

When the board went to the state School Building Authority for a new school in Chapmanville, the board put forward $6 million dollars while the agency put forward $6.5 million.

“Makes no sense to me,” Hardesty said.

Other purchases Hardesty mentioned included a $2 million purchase of energy-efficient lighting and fixtures.

Additionally, the board will lose $880,000 from the state aid formula because of declining student enrollment.

Another cut Hardesty proposed is eliminating the Junior ROTC program at Chapmanville Regional High School, Logan High School and Man High School.

Cadets spoke out against the proposal at Thursday’s meeting. The school system has more than 400 cadets across three schools.

The Chapman Regional High School JROTC is 50 percent funded by the school board. The programs at Logan High and Man High schools are fully funded by the body.

Hardesty said he wants to try to fund the program.

“We have to weigh as a board can we find a way to keep that program functionally, and we’re going to try to find a way to do that,” he said. “Are we putting a Band-Aid on a patient that needs a tourniquet? Absolutely, but for the sake of these kids, we’re going to give it every effort we can to try to find some dollars.”

The board will vote on next fiscal year’s budget April 6.