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Cuts expected as JVS levy fails

November 7, 2012
Weirton Daily Times

BLOOMINGDALE - The Jefferson County Joint Vocational School is facing cuts in staffing as well as spending after voters again said no to the district's request for an additional 1-mill operating levy.

Unofficial tallies posted on the Jefferson County Board of Elections website show the measure failed by 246 votes, with a total of 15,901 against the levy and 15,655 in favor. A small number of those votes were cast by voters in the Harrisville area in Harrison County, which is served by the JVS.

Superintendent Dale Edwards early today said he is extremely disappointed with the outcome.

"We saw the good things that were going to happen with passage of the levy," he said. "Now, that's not going to happen."

Edwards, though, said he appreciates the determination and effort of those who lobbied for passage of the levy as well as those who voted for it.

"I think they realized how important it was to operations, not just (now) but into the future," he said. "We appreciate the votes we did receive."

Edwards said "things would have been much brighter if we could have been successful in getting it passed." As matters stand, he said the district "is not in a position to even continue operating in our current state."

"We're going to have to make some reductions, some cuts, and it all boils down to bringing the expenditures in line with our revenues," he said. "The levy was not (intended) to produce additional revenue up and beyond what we received in the past, it would have restored some of the cuts we experienced in state and federal money. As we were losing those dollars and making cuts and reductions, it was with the idea that it would only be until got the levy passed and could restore them."

He said it will mean reductions in staff, and they'll be spending much less on supplies.

"Equipment purchases that we'd identified as being important in improving our labs will be put on hold," he said. "And our big ticket item, replacing the roof, will not happen. We'll have to go back to patching the roof whenever moisture penetrates the building."

The roof replacement was pegged at roughly $1.6 million, but contractors had told school officials that given the frequency with which they were being called in to patch leaks, it would have been more cost effective to simply replace the roof altogether.

It's the fourth time the JVS levy has failed, he said, though noting that each time the margin has improved.

"Unfortunately, we weren't able to convince the majority how vital this was going to be to our operation," he said, adding the levy committee "did an excellent job just getting word out to the public about how little the cost would be to the average property owner and in terms of explaining what the money would be used for."

"If I had to pick a reason, it would probably be due to the large number of tax issues on the ballot," he said.

The JVS board meets Thursday, and funding will undoubtedly be a hot topic, he said.

"But one of the things that comes into play in our discussions is knowing that we have a (1-mill operating) levy that's going to need to be renewed in the very near future," he said. "We have to be cognizant of that situation. There will be a lot of discussion with regards to what we should do next ... whether we should put it back on the ballot as soon as possible, or should we delay and wait until we get the other levy renewed."

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