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Brooke County Board of Education OKs $35.2M budget

WELLSBURG — As it continues to contend with a $3.2 million per year shortfall in funds from its five-year operating levy, the Brooke County Board of Education on Monday approved a $35.2 million budget for the 2020-21 fiscal year.

Deidra Parr, the board’s treasurer, confirmed money from the board’s general fund has been applied to offsetting the shortfall, which has been blamed on a miscalculation by former staff.

She said the board will see a carryover from the current year of $100,000, at the most, but will see a rise in tax revenue of $884,292, due in part to an increase in property values.

Both Parr and Superintendent Jeffrey Crook advised efforts must continue to curtail spending to lift the school district from the state Department of Education’s financial watch.

In recent months the board has taken measures to reduce spending, including cutting more than 40 professional and service personnel not covered by the state formula.

The board also lowered hourly pay from $25 to $20 for the extra duties, which include tutoring, serving as student club advisors and class sponsors, and other roles served outside staff’s regular hours.

Parr said the two moves saved the school district $2.8 million.

She told the board there are still 30 positions not covered by the state’s funding formula. But following the meeting, she said cutting them is not easily done because some provide services to special needs students required by the state.

Parr said while about $900,000 had been budgeted for pay to staff for extra duties and substitute teachers, she raised the amount to $1.3 million to accurately reflect that cost in recent years.

In March the board also agreed not to pay $5,000 in stipends to all school employees included in the levy. It was done at the recommendation of its attorneys, who advised it would incur a deficit of more than 3 percent of its budget, for which board members could be held legally liable.

On Monday Crook told the board it will take time to recover financially but predicted, “We’re going to be in a better place in the next couple of years.”

In other business, the board:

¯ Accepted bids of $5,817 from Liberty Distributors; $27,154 from American Sanitary; $1,409 from Justin Products; and $11,742 from D.H. Bertenthal & Sons, all for custodial supplies.

¯ Accepted bids of $3,500 from Electronic Specialist Co. for fire alarm testing; $1,501 per month from rug and mop rentals from Wheeling Linen Services; and $85 per building per month from Tri-State Exterminating for pest control services.

¯ Agreed to provide $10,000 to AmeriCorps to provide tutors to students at the Alternative Learning Center.

¯ Announced its June 8 and 22 meetings will be held at 5 p.m. instead of 6 p.m.

(Scott can be contacted at wscott@heraldstaronline.com.)

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