The Kanawha County Board of Education no longer has to give a portion of its budget to the Kanawha County Public Library.

Kanawha County and eight other county schools systems have been required by law to give millions of dollars to public libraries for 56 years. Lawmakers passed the bill in 1957.

The state Supreme Court Friday ruled in favor of the BOE in a written order that came down Friday afternoon.

“We no longer have to pay the library board three million dollars a year,” said Kanawha County Board President Pete Thaw.

The $3 million figure is just a ballpark figure, according to Thaw. But he said this has been a bad deal for the county.

“The library has carried on a parasitic relationship with us where we have to pay them education money,” said Thaw. “It’s been wrong all this time and now it is over.”

In the ruling, justices said the law violates equal protection principles because it treats county school boards required by law to provide financial support to non-school purposes less favorably than county school boards with no such requirement.

The High Court ruled that the law directing money to the Kanawha library is “unconstitutional and unenforceable.”

Friday’s ruling puts an end to almost a decade long funding dispute that started when Kanawha County Board of Education members first filed a lawsuit over the issue back in 2003.

The extra funds being freed up with this ruling will help considerably a school system that has been running under a tight budget. Thaw said it will be put to good use.

“The board is going to use it for things they were concerned about funding and we have a number of projects that we were wondering how we were going to fund them and now we can fund it with this money,” said Thaw.

Thaw said now, instead of the money going into library salaries for the Kanawha County Public Library, it will go into education, into the classroom.

Library officials had warned that a ruling in favor of the school board could devastate the library’s programs and services in the county.


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  • C.Hoffman

    Unconstitutional because of non-school purposes? I submit there is not a better place for education than the public library. It is clear to me the BOE is not about education. We must remove government from the process of learning, education and schooling. The taxpayers will not be rebated so that the money can be used for "things" the BOE was worried about funding. Let's see what things could they be worried about funding? Mr. Roberts is spot on.

  • Amy

    Sad day when two insitutions designed to help communities are at such odds. How sad that a BOE member views KCPL so harshly. I'm really hoping Pete Thaw's funding decisions include taking over KCPL's teacher book collection bags, classroom loan libraries, school libraries inclusion into KCPL's delivery and checkout system, early literacy storytimes, 24 hour online tutoring and children's database availablility, and summer reading program.

  • Mr Roberts

    Did you hear that? That was the sound of the union licking their chops at going after this money for teacher raises.

  • docbegone

    Major reforms of the BOE can't happen soon enough. Education gets about 70% of every tax dollar and that still isn't enough. Student achievement is the lowest in the nation.

    • Jon

      I've noticed in the past few years that the BOE has stopped distributing the pamphlet that breaks down the BOE salaries. Must have something to do with the dozens of Assistant Superintendents all making $70,000 plus a year. They consolidated schools without consolidating Administration.

    • Steve

      I agree. And it needs to start with the top. As a teacher, I would rather have more resources in the classroom than people in Charleston telling us the budget is too tight and we need to be more resourceful with what we have.