Wyoming County voters return to the polls Saturday, Jan. 26, to decide the fate of the excess levy, also known as the textbook levy. Voters have approved the excess levy every five years since 1927, according to schools officials.

The excess levy provides funding for numerous supplemental programs and activities that enhance learning opportunities for students, including several academic fairs such as the county’s Reading Fair, Social Studies Fair and Science Fair in addition to annual spelling bees, geography bees, and Math Field Day, among others.

“Student participation in the academic fairs and other academic competitions enhance their education in several ways,” Debbie Hall explained.

Hall serves as the director of federal and learning enrichment programs for Wyoming County Schools and oversees the fairs and other academic competitions.

“Parent involvement is highly encouraged with the academic fairs. When parents are involved in their child’s education, their overall academic performance increases,” Hall noted.

“Parental support and involvement is a critical aspect of our school system,” Deirdre Cline, county schools superintendent, emphasized. “We work hard to build and sustain relationships among parents, the school, and the students.

“Families are a solid building block in the educational experience their children encounter,” Cline emphasized.

“The academic competitions also encourage higher order thinking skills as the students produce their projects, including research, writing and public speaking,” Hall said.

“As the student excels on the school level, they have a chance to move on to the county competition, and to the regional and state levels. This gives them the opportunity to compete in a larger arena and boost their confidence levels.

“Lastly, students who participate in academic fairs are able to refine their interests, connect those interests to their daily class activities, which allows them to excel while having fun,” Hall emphasized.

Additionally, the excess levy provides funding for instructional supplies, laptops, Viewboards, virtual reality systems, after school activity and tutoring buses, school furniture, band instruments and uniforms, academic field trips, support for coaches, professional development, employee dental/optical/medical reimbursements, repairs and renovations to facilities, among other items.

A portion of the levy funding also provides money for the county library system, WVU Extension and 4-H, and the county Health Department to support programs that directly impact school age children.

Over the five years of this levy, it will provide $6,254,863 annually for the school system.

Without the passage of the levy, many of the supplemental programs will have to be significantly reduced or eliminated, Cline said.

The excess levy is added to the regular tax levy residents pay on personal property.

It is voted upon by county residents every five years and the rate, set by the county Board of Education, is outlined in the election ballot.

The previous excess levy election was conducted in November 2013.

Unchanged from the previous election, the rates for this excess levy remain at 22.95 cents per $100 of assessed property value for Class I property; 45.90 cents on Class II property; 91.80 cents for Class III; and 91.80 cents for Class VI property.

“Property taxes will not go up at all if this levy is approved,” Cline emphasized.

“No one will pay more taxes than they are currently paying, if they vote in favor of the levy. Taxes will stay the same.”

Early voting continues in the Wyoming County Courthouse lobby, in Pineville, through Jan. 23 from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m. Monday-Friday and from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 19.

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