Randolph County BOE president disappointed in excess levy defeat

ELKINS, W.Va. — Randolph County Board of Education President Amanda Smith has called the recent voting results of the school excess levy “sad.”

Smith expressed disappointment to MetroNews on Monday after the more than $16 million levy failed on Saturday by a nearly two to one margin. 3,726 votes were cast against the levy, while 1,903 votes were cast in favor.

“By the time all 27 precincts came in, I was just incredibly disappointed,” she said. “It was a very student friendly levy and I was really disappointed the citizens of Randolph County didn’t see it that way.”

Smith said this is the fourth levy to fail in a short number of years in the county, as Randolph County remains one of 11 counties in the state without an excess levy.

Included in the levy was funds to provide for school safety and student instructional materials, provide for the hiring of new professional staff, provide funds for to allow all students, and funds to supplement the budget of the public libraries within Randolph County, and the WVU Extension Service to provide continuing 4H programming.

The other half of the levy revolved around athletics for student-athletes in the county. The proposed levy included new artificial turf at multiple facilities at schools, funds to support all students, employees and senior citizens to attend extracurricular activities for free and funding for the completion of a new gym at Tygarts Valley Middle/High School.

Smith said the turf aspect of the levy was a big deal to a lot of people and she is sad because of the number of student-athletes in the county.

She said there is a large no-levy group in the county that have lost trust in the board over a bond failing a couple of years ago that promised a new gymnasium at Tygarts Valley Middle/High School. A levy that did not include plans for a new gym passed at the same time of the bond failing and Smith said it ultimately confused voters on what the county would do in each measure.

“There was a gallant effort put forth by those not in favor of the levy,” she said. “That no levy group, if they can just give somebody a shadow of doubt, it may have affected their vote or maybe even their ability to go vote. Maybe they are just apathetic in general.”

With another levy failing and the county having to fall back on regular funding for schools, Smith added the near future looks slow in the system.

“It’s kind of stagnant,” she said. “That is the word I would use to describe the future. The county has said four times that we don’t support our student’s education.

“As sad as that is, that only leaves us with a certain amount of money to fund our schools. With a county as large as Randolph, those budget monies are constricted even further.”

According to a website dedicated to the levy, the measure would have added a surcharge to citizens’ real-estate and personal property taxes. For example, a house that would currently sell for about $100,000, the additional monthly amount that would have been added by the levy would have been just less than $10.

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