Charter Schools not a priority in Berkeley County

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Charter Schools not a priority in Berkeley County
Nate Stewart

BERKELEY COUNTY, W.Va.- The West Virginia senate passed the Charter Schools Act of 2015 on Monday by a vote of 18 to 16. The bill would allow the creation of two charter schools per year, and no more than 10 schools in the first five years.

"As I look at the charter school legislation, it's one that is of interest, but one that is not a priority to me in Berkeley County," said Manny Arvon, superintendent of Berkeley County Schools.

Arvon added that while charter schools do have their benefits, there are bigger issues that need to be addressed before they consider bringing them to the county.

"My school system is being faced with a growing population," Arvon said. "Our assessments are declining while we are opening new schools. We need to address the current school aide formula in West Virginia that is outdated and underfunded."

Berkeley County is already struggling with a tight budget and had to reduce 81 educational positions. Arvon said bringing charter schools to the county at this point in time would not be beneficial.

"Adding another school on a budget that is dictated by the school aide formula is not feasible," Arvon said.

However, Arvon said if the issues the county is currently facing are resolved, he would not rule out the possibility of bringing in charter schools.

"Given the opportunity, it would be interesting. I wouldn't have a problem with the implementation of a charter school if everything else that I'm dealing with would be fixable at this point," he said.

In the Eastern Panhandle, Senators Craig Blair and Charles Trump voted for the Charter Schools Act, while John Unger and Herb Snyder voted against it.