WYOMING COUNTY, W.Va. — “Strained but solid” with no deficit is how the superintendent in Wyoming County describes the proposed budget for her county school system that members of the Wyoming County Board of Education will take up in May.
“We are solid at this point,” reported Superintendent Deirdre Cline about Wyoming County which is on no financial watch lists from the state Department of Education.
The financial stability is despite last October’s closure of the Pinnacle Mine, the biggest mine and largest private employer in Wyoming County.
Cline, who first took over as superintendent in 2016, said buffers for such economic blows in the “unpredictable economy” of the Southern Coalfields have been built into the school budget which relies heavily on revenues from taxes charged on area businesses.
“We manage ourselves very wisely, very prudently and we find ourselves very financially responsible in this county and plan to stay that way,” Cline said.
When federal, state and local dollars are factored in, Wyoming County will have a budget of roughly $55 million for the new fiscal year which begins on July 1, if the BOE approves the proposal next month.
The budget reflects an enrollment decline of 100 students between this school year and the previous school year. For comparison, student enrollment was down by 40 students the prior year.
As a result, personnel changes were necessary.
Slated for termination were 11.5 professional positions and 17 service personnel positions in Wyoming County with transfers for 11 professional positions and 12 service positions.
“You have to look at how to best serve children and not cut services to those children and it is very difficult,” Cline said of the personnel decisions.
“We’ve believe we’ve done a very surgical, very good job with that and we have so much teamwork within our central office and within all of our schools.”
Some positions will continue because of the five-year levy renewal voters overwhelmingly approved in January. The levy also funds textbooks, workbooks, instructional supplies and other school materials.
Cline said she was “so grateful” for the continued support.
She noted some additional school funding is a possibility out of the Pinnacle Mine bankruptcy filing.
Overall, she said she’s optimistic.
“We’re hopeful about the opening of new mines and businesses and what the Coalfields Expressway completion’s going to bring us,” said Cline.
“We remain hopeful about the future for Wyoming County and for the Southern Coalfields.”