The Charleston Gazette-Mail front paged an article Monday, September 14, stating the Legislative Auditor’s Office had found that the West Virginia Department of Education had underfunded 36 school districts and over-funded 19. Pocahontas County had the highest amount of underfunding per pupil of all counties in the state. Other counties, because of their large number of pupils, had much higher totals – but no one had a bigger loss per pupil than we did. At the highest rate of underfunding of any district in the state, our small population resulted in the accumulated loss of $1,103.00 per pupil or 1.3 million dollars overall in a seven year time frame – an average of nearly $200,000 per year.
Recently I was told that two of our three elementary schools have no in-school library programs and depend on outside contributions to fund library services for our children. Our maintenance department had to declare an emergency to acquire personnel in order to get all of our boilers lit in a timely manner, and cited the crumbling condition of our actual school buildings. They cited fire protection systems crumbling to the touch and problematic Internet services in our schools despite efforts to improve those systems. Deferred maintenance only steals from program funding in years to come.
My question is, “What is being done to recapture at least some of this money to eliminate dangerous fire protection failures, emergency maintenance and return us to preventative maintenance and fully functioning buildings?”
Our school programs are once in a lifetime program opportunities for children who after all –get one and only one chance at an education in their childhood.
Where are our leaders in this?
When will we the public, be informed as to what our leadership is doing to correct this situation?
I hope our leadership and The Pocahontas Times will keep us informed.