WV Federation of Teachers President criticizes Boone County budget cuts

By Matt Maccaro in News
MADISON, W.Va. — The president of the West Virginia Federation of Teachers is criticizing cuts made by the Boone County School board to its budget in the face of a state takeover.

Cuts to vision and dental benefits and supplemental pay were made last week as recommended by the state Dept. of Education to avoid the WVDE seizing control of the district. Christine Campbell wanted to know how the issue seemingly arose out of nowhere.

“If the state Board of Education were truly monitoring the county budget, where were these recommendations last year? Or earlier this year, within the timelines set forth in state code?,” she asked.

Campbell contended that to cut benefits and pay so close to the school year is a breach of the contracts that were signed in the spring.

“If they (the teachers) walked away from their contracts, they would be penalized. They upheld their contractual obligations, and they didn’t create this mess,” Campbell said. “The comments that teachers and service personnel educating our children should be lucky to have a job is, quite frankly, offensive.”

The Boone County Board said they made cuts and did everything they could to avoid salary and benefit cuts, something Campbell questioned as well.

“They say they did it, but what have they actually gone through to make sure that all options have been considered and cut before they start cutting employees (salary and benefits).

For it’s part, the state school board said Boone County’s revenue shortfall situation was unfortunate, but at least the district will maintain control, no jobs were lost and the school year would not be affected. Campbell wasn’t so sure.

“We’re concerned that all of this is going to affect the actual school year, and making sure that those students have service personnel, teachers and their administrators in their buildings when they come on Aug. 16.”

The cuts made last Monday to the Boone County School budget for Fiscal Year 2017 amounted to nearly $6 million.

The WVDE had said that the original budget submitted to the state was about $7 million short, and demanded a balanced budget be redrafted to avoid the state taking action.