WILLIAMSON – Salary petitions containing the names of parents, teachers and others supporting increases in local salaries and benefits for both teachers and service personnel, were presented to the Mingo County Board of Education Tuesday.
Felicia Law, organizational development specialist for the West Virginia Education Asso-ciation, Charleston, addressed the Board at its regular meeting in the central conference room at Cinderella and presented copies of the Salary Petitions from 10 Mingo County school areas.
Also addressing the School Board on the matter of providing salary increases for county education employees was Sid Fragale, West Virginia staff representative for the American Federation of Teachers.
Vice President Jacqueline Branch conducted the meeting and other board members present were William D. Duty, Dr. J.W. Endicott and Michael Carter.
Fragale gave each board member and Mingo County School Superintendent Dwight D. Dials a copy of a letter from Judy Hale, president of AFT-WV, who discussed Senate Bill 541 funds, which is another resource to be used in efforts to attract and retain education personnel.
Although the Mingo School Board has no control over the school system because the state Board of Education still has that power, the local Board was provided with facts as to the intent of the legislation.
Board Treasurer Edward Lovitch is now preparing the 2009-2010 fiscal year budget for submission to the state board and its consideration and approval. Local board members and the superintendent have input on items to be included in the budget.
The Salary Petitions presented by Ms. Law note that additional revenue was made available to the county school system as a result of Mingo County citizens’ recent vote to renew the county’s excess levy.
“In addition, for each of the last two years, the Legislature provided inc-reased revenue to the county in the form of local share monies,” the petitions point out. “The legislative intent was that those funds be made available for in-creased local salaries and benefits for employees.”
Ms. Law pointed to petitioners’ belief that “A local salary increase is long overdue. We urge you to include salary incfeases for all employees in the 2009-2010 budget.”
School areas represented by the petitions’ signatures are Burch Elementary, Burch High, Mingo County Career and Technical Cen-ter, Gilbert Grade, Kermit K-8, Lenore K-8, Matewan Elementary, Matewan Mid-dle, Riverside Elementary and Tug Valley High School.
Fragale said AFT-West Virginia has a motto, “Together we are greater than one.” ATF believes that one voice may be the spark that ignites debate, and that many voices speaking together make real change.
He noted that SB 541 was passed by the legislature in 2007. The bill allows annual growth in the funding for local schools by reducing by 8 percentage points over two years the amount of locally generated property tax revenue that the state considers as the local obligation toward support of the Public School Support.
In actual dollars, AFT President Hale’s letter re--ported, the agregate increase available for counties at the local level as a result of SB 541 amounted to well over $30 million over the two-year period. Sen. Larry Edgell, vice-chair of the Senate Education committee at the time the bill was passed, stated several months ago “There was a verbal agreement between legislators and the state Board of Education that the funds should be used to increase pay for teachers and service workers.”
Gov. Joe Manchin, in his State of the State address in 2008, expressed his belief the intent of the bill was to increase salaries. Among other things, he said the state gave flexibility in SB 541, “but I have found that in many cases the money was used for other purposes other than the classroom salary supplements that it was meant for.”
Hale’s letter said AFT-WV will continue to press county board of education to use the SB 541 funds for their intended purpose, namely, to increase salaries for school service personnel and teachers. She stated the need to increase salaries for school service personnel is just as critical.
Fragale also presented some facts and figures concerning the Public School Support Program in Mingo and the state’s other counties. Mingo had a total increase in state aid allowance of $779,301.
A Daily News story last Dec. 18 reported that Min-go County was one of 15 West Virginia counties which budgeted its SB 541 funds toward offsetting the costs of an overstaffed condition (professional and service employees over funding formula) and the increase of fuel and utility costs.
Mingo County Superin--tendent Dwight D. Dials has said he would recommend a salary increase for all employees, should these funds be available to support the ongoing commitment and the revenue remain constant.
The state change in local share computations provided Mingo County with an allocation of $282,043 for the 2007-08 school year and $294,465 for 2008-09.
Voters of the county renewed the existing five-year additional school levy in January. During the fiscal years beginning July a, 2009 and ending July 1, 2013, the levy is to provide $7.68 million per year, and the total amount for the five years is $38.4 million, or such amounts as the proposed additional levy rates may produce when applied to annual assessed valuation of taxable property in the Mingo County School District.
Support for professional personnel out of the levy funds is $2.3 million and support for service personnel is $1.565 million.