Senator touts bill to address Boone County school woes

By Chris Lawrence in News
CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Legislation to allocate $2.1 Million to the Boone County Board of Education to pay teachers and school service personnel through the end of the fiscal year is being considered by the West Virginia Senate. Governor Tomblin introduced the bill which would provide the critical funds to the beleaguered school system.

Senator Ron Stollings (D-Boone) lauded the attention to the bill, but stressed the money would be paid back under state statute.

“Districts shall pay back said funds should the taxes be received in subsequent years and the school receives the revenue generated from such,” said Stollings. “This is not necessarily a bailout, even though frankly I think they deserve a bailout, this is in concept a loan.”

Stollings told fellow Senators on the floor Saturday, Boone County has been hit harder than any other county by the down turn in coal.

“The system was told the would need to cut their budget by $2.4 Million, they cut it by $2.6 Million in 2016,” said Stollings. “During 2016 eleven coal companies went bankrupt resulting in a $7 Million loss.”

Subsequently the Boone County School Board voted to close four schools, layoff 80 teachers and service workers at the end of the year, deferred summertime checks, and swept every account they could, but still couldn’t make payroll.

Stollings lamented the issue and hoped members would help the cause. He cautioned against the criticism it would create a line of county school boards seeking similar aid. Stollings said Boone County’s situation was far more dire than any other county. He added, the state truly owed some help to his county.

“Boone County is to West Virginia as West Virginia is to the United States,” he said. “Sometimes we feel unappreciated for all of our contributions to coal severance tax over the many, many years.”