During the 2022 General Election, West Virginians will vote on two constitutional amendments, if approved, would dramatically impact public education in the state. These amendments include some of the biggest revisions to the West Virginia State Constitution proposed in nearly 100 years. As an association entrusted with the free and appropriate education of our students as well as the fiscal health and safety of our public school districts, we feel it is the responsibility of the Pocahontas County Board of Education Members (PCBOE) to inform the public of the damaging impact that passage of Amendments 2 and 4 could have on the West Virginia public education system after having the opportunity as provided by the State Superintendent of Schools to have information sessions with Governor Jim Justice and Senate President Craig Blair. In addition, superintendents and treasurers received a communication issued by the WVDE, Office of School Finance, outlining the impact on school districts.
WHEREAS, the Pocahontas County Board of Education Members (PCBOE) find there is no ratified, public legislative plan for what the legislature intends to do if Amendment 2 is passed, and, as such, there is no consensus, no agreement, and are no stated objectives that voters can read to understand the intended impact of the passage of Amendment 2 on the educational system and other essential county and city services before they cast their vote; and,
WHEREAS, the PCBOE finds that the passage of Amendment 2 will result in the loss of constitutionally secured revenue sources and will grant to the legislature, in perpetuity, new authority to amend school district budgets, as well as the budgets of other entities that support the safety of our schools. Should the legislature choose to exercise this new authority by reducing school district funding now or in the future, county public school district general budgets along with current and future excess levy revenues could be negatively impacted, resulting in the removal of educational projects and services; and,
WHEREAS, the PCBOE finds that more than five hundred million dollars in necessary funding for schools in all 55 counties, first responders, and county and city services will be placed at risk and could be stripped away, resulting in fewer teachers and school service personnel, police officers, firefighters, and emergency responders; and,
WHEREAS, the passage of Amendment 2 would not eliminate all personal property taxes. Other properties such as real estate, ATVs, campers, etc. will not be exempt under the proposed amendment.
WHEREAS, the PCBOE finds that education decisions are best left to experts and professionals in the education field. Amendment 4 has the potential to take important decisions about our local schools away from these experts, teachers, service personnel, parents and local school boards who all work together to make the best possible decisions about how to provide a high-quality education for our kids; and,
WHEREAS, the State Board of Education was created as a non-partisan governing body for our schools separate of the political process, and, as such, our students should be provided a quality education that prepares them for the future in an environment that is safe and free of political agendas; and,
WHEREAS, the PCBOE finds both Amendments 2 and 4 eliminate local control and transfer to the West Virginia Legislature important decision-making abilities best handled by local school districts and local governments with a duty to serve their citizens and their communities.
NOW, THEREFORE, be it resolved that the Pocahontas County Board of Education (PCBOE), for the reasons stated above, does not offer support for Amendments 2 and 4.
Resolution adopted this 17th day of the October 2022, by the Pocahontas County Board of Education.