GCS to host two informational forums to provide information about the levy
The Greenbrier County Board of Education has approved a sixty percent (60%) levy call to be placed before the voters on the November 8, 2022, election ballot. The board seeks to renew the levy, which must be authorized by the voters every five years, with a ten percent increase to continue to fund vital educational services to Greenbrier County students and further fortify school safety measures. Notably, Elementary & Secondary School Emergency Relief Funding (ESSERF) has allowed the school system to pilot on-campus contracted police services at all schools for the next two years. The ten-percent levy (10%) increase is necessary to sustain the enhanced security initiative.
While the proposed levy rate will increase by ten percent (10%), school officials note that citizens will not see an overall increase in the amount they pay because the school construction bond expires in 2024. Greenbrier County currently ranks 32nd among West Virginia counties in local taxpayer contribution to education. Forty-three of the other 54 county school boards in the state have voter-approved excess levies in place. With the approval of the proposed levy and payoff of bonds in 2024, Greenbrier County will fall to 36th in the state for local taxes levied for public education. Citizens in 35 other WV counties will pay a higher tax rate to support public schools.
Greenbrier County Schools will host two informational forums to inform the public about the school levy. The first forum is on Monday, Sept. 19, at 5:30 p.m. in the auditorium at Western Greenbrier Middle School. A second forum is on Monday, Sept. 26, at 5:30 p.m. in the auditorium at Eastern Greenbrier Middle School.
The approximate amount necessary to carry out these specific programs and services is $8,326,267 annually. Monies generated by the continuation of the levy can be used only for expenditures specified on the ballot. The specific purposes for funding set forth in the levy call are as follows:
- School safety and security improvements and initiatives, including but not limited to security services, equipment, and related support services for students ($1,000,000)
- Purchase of instructional materials, technology, and related resources ($1,000,000).
- Continuation of art and music programs available to all students ($350,000).
- School allotments and supplies, including lab supplies ($900,000).
- Capital improvements to school facilities, including repair and maintenance of buildings and utilities ($2,776,267).
- Provide for employment of necessary personnel outside the school aid formula to meet the needs of students and maintain employee benefits ($2,300,000).
“Since 1974, the citizens of Greenbrier County have supported our students and schools through the school excess levy, and we could not be more grateful,” stated Superintendent Jeff Bryant.
“Among many other vital services, the levy makes possible school security initiatives crucial to the safety of our students and staff. This year, we are proactively implementing an initiative to place contracted off-duty police officers in all elementary schools to bolster school security measures. These uniformed police officers will receive training on maintaining safe schools, handling student and school security threats, and facilitating drills. The officers will also have arrest powers. The officers will not be there to discipline students; their focus is to ensure a safe school environment and respond to potential threats. Considering recent school tragedies, we feel this is a necessary step. Renewing the levy also allows us to continue our Prevention Resource Officer program, providing full-time police officers in our middle and high schools. It also enables us to continue contracted school security services currently in place at all of our schools,” continued Bryant.
“Additionally, our ability to provide art and music instruction to all students sets Greenbrier County Schools apart from many other county school systems. Our partnerships with area arts organizations further enhance this effort. These programs are key to our mission and ability to provide a comprehensive Pre-K – 12 education to our students. This level of art and music in our schools would be impossible without our school levy,” concluded Bryant.
School levy information, including a copy of the levy ballot, is available at greenbriercountyschools.org