State board member weighs in on Boone County budget issue

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State board member weighs in on Boone County budget issue
By Matt Maccaro, WV MetroNews

MADISON, W.Va. — A Boone County native and state school board member says she understands firsthand how the county school district is struggling, but also must pass a balanced budget for the coming school year.

“Being a former superintendent, I would say that you always have to balance your budget,” said Beverly Kingery, a lifelong county resident. “Sometimes it’s tight; I know for me it certainly was. But you do have to operate within the bounds of the law and have a balanced budget.”

The Boone County School Board once unanimously rejected a directive from the state Dept. of Education to make salary, benefit and extracurricular cuts. The directive did not include the elimination of any positions.

State Superintendent Dr. Michael Martirano has threatened the district with a state takeover, but Kingery said it hasn’t been discussed openly yet.

“I understand that’s an option that may be on the table. Nothing’s been presented to my knowledge to state board members at this time, but through the media I understand that is an option.”

The state school board has a meeting scheduled for Wednesday. Kingery said the law requires a balanced budget, but she didn’t think the Boone County School Board was being stubborn intentionally.

“I think the board members certainly have their employees’ best interests at heart,” she said. “Not only their employees, but that entire county right now is suffering and suffering mightily because of the economy. I think the board members are trying in their hearts to do what they think might be the very best for the situation their employees and their families are in right now.”

Martirano also previously said that Boone County Schools could risk losing state aid if they continue to remain adament about passing a budget that the WVDE maintains would fall short by next spring.

During the special legislative session on the state budget last month, the legislature and Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin agreed to allocate $2.1 million in emergency funding to the district so it could meet payroll for the 2015-2016 school year.