By Lacie Pierson
WAYNE — Less than 24 hours after members of the Wayne County Board of Education approved a bond measure for the May 13 Primary Election ballot, Superintendent of Schools Lynn Hurt officially took to the campaign trail for the first time during a media event Wednesday afternoon at Wayne High School.
The bond’s fate ultimately will be placed in the hands of Wayne County voters, but Hurt said she would make the bond her main focus for the next three months during a series of public meetings about the measure, even as she prepares to retire on June 30.
The bond sale and the accompanying public funding would provide a total of $42.2 million in funding for the construction of a Ceredo-Kenova Elementary School and a Pre-K-to-8 facility in Crum as well as renovations to Wayne High School to include new classrooms and enclosing breezeways between buildings on that school’s campus.
Hurt said the bond measure and the construction projects are part of a bigger plan for the schools in the county.
“We’ve talked about this bond being the start of Wayne County’s plan for safer schools,” Hurt said. “Frankly, it’s Wayne County’s Plan for a lot of things — better technology, more efficient school facilities, financial savings on maintenance and modular rental and the hope of academic success. First and foremost, it’s about providing a safer atmosphere for learning to happen.”
Principals from three of the affected schools, Wayne, Crum Elementary School and Crum Middle School, were on hand for the event. The principals of Ceredo and Kenova Elementary Schools were unavailable for professional and personal reasons, Hurt said.
The measure that voters will be deciding upon in May will be whether to support the measure that will allow for the sale of $18 million in bonds that will be paid for by citizens of Wayne County.
If the bond is passed by voters, the West Virginia School Building Authority will match with their own $18 million. The school system will supply another $4.2 million, and the remaining $2 million will come from local funding and Qualified Zone Academy Bond funding.
The interest rate for the bond will not exceed 6.5 percent, and, as of January, bonds were at an interest rate of 4 percent, she said.
If the measure is passed, the interest rate could be less than 6.5 percent, but it would not exceed that amount, Hurt said.
A pamphlet supplied by Wayne County Schools features a chart that shows how much residents’ taxes would increase based on the 6.5 percent interest rate. The information was supplied by the bonding agency, Minneapolis-based PiperJaffray.
The information provided by the agency is a breakdown of what kind of increase taxpayers would face in paying off the bond over a period of 14 years and nine months at the highest interest rate.
Class II property covers owner-occupied residences and farms. If a Class II residence is appraised for $130,000 and assessed for $78,000, the homeowner will see an annual tax increase of $77.07, according to the pamphlet.
The exception to that number is the Homestead Exemption, which according to the Wayne County Assessor’s website, is for persons who are 65 years or older, or persons who are permanently and totally disabled. Those who are eligible for the exemption would see an annual increase of $57.31, if their home is appraised and assessed for the same values.
For Class III and Class IV real and personal property, which includes vehicles, boats and utility trailers, among other items, the annual increase for an item that is assessed for $130,000 would be $154.13.
Those figures are preliminary and would change based on the interest rate at which the bonds are sold.
A complete chart of estimated annual tax amounts is available on the Wayne County Schools website.
The chart also will be made available during a series of meetings throughout the county.
Four meetings at area schools have been scheduled, and more meetings are being organized at senior and community centers in the county.
The first of the four school-based meetings will take place at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 11, at Wayne Elementary School.
The following meetings also will begin at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 25 at the Wonderdome in Kenova; Tuesday, March 11, at Crum Middle School; and Tuesday, April 8, at Prichard Elementary School.
For more information, visit www.wayneschoolswv.org.