State school board puts off decision on Boone County

By Jeff Jenkins in News
CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Boone County school system employees could go from some of the best paid school workers in the state to the worst if cuts proposed by state Superintendent Dr. Michael Martirano go through, some workers told members of the state Board of Education Wednesday.

State board members, who discussed the issue for more than an hour without making a decision, said there were a lot of questions about the Boone County budget and a possible state takeover. Some kind of vote is expected Thursday.

The state Board of Education could make a decision on Boone County Thursday.

Boone County American Federation of Teachers President Carrena Rouse told the state board her county will become a ghost town if salaries and benefits are cut.

“My fear is that we will lose our best teachers—Boone County is currently seeing this exodus,” Rouse said. “My fear is that Boone County will become another McDowell or Lincoln county and this is not what this board wants.”

Employees would lose as much as $6,000 individually if supplemental pay is cut along with dental and vision coverage, Rouse said. The number would double for family coverage.

The WV-AFT is asking the state board to not rush to a decision and have further discussion.

State School Superintendent Dr. Michael Martirano told the board a lot of good points are being made but the bottom line is because of the downfall of the coal industry Boone County no longer has the money to operate the system as it has in the past.

“As teachers and as staff and community we need to understand that there’s a problem–there’s not enough money right now to sustain the educational delivery to meet the instructional term and the employment term of our students and our staff,” Martirano said.

If something isn’t done the Boone County system could run out of money by next April, Martirano said.

The Boone County Board of Education has rejected two sets of directives from Martirano to balance the system’s budget.

Boone County Career and Technical Center Principal Jeff Nelson told the state board the attempt to cut his pay and others was “unethical, unfair and illegal.”

“What shouldn’t happen is this burden be shackled to folks that have a contract, that have a financial agreement, have made financial plans based on that promise from the state of West Virginia and the county of Boone County,” Nelson said.

The state Board of Education will resume its meeting at 9 a.m. Thursday.