Garber: Ohio County BOE To Keep Library Funding Talk on Shelf for Now | News, Sports, Jobs | #Education | #sextrafficing | #childsaftey

photo by: Joselyn King

New Ohio County Board of Education President Andy Garber addresses fellow board members after taking office on July 1. At left is board member Grace Norton.

WHEELING – New Ohio County Board of Education President Andy Garber says there will be no immediate talk before the board on whether the school district should resume full funding of the Ohio County Library.

Last year, the board voted to reduce library funding from approximately $884,547 to $589,698 – or about $300,000 for the 2022-2023 fiscal year.

“That discussion has not been had yet. We will deal with that down the road,” Garber said of funding for the next fiscal year. “There are various ideas out there, and we want to make sure the board is on the same page.

“I would like to see us support the library. But again, I am one person. There are five on board, and whether we will resume funding is yet to be determined. We will work as one unit. We will explore what types of things we have in mind, and come out as one voice.”

For the time being, operations of the Ohio County Board of Education will remain as they have been, he continued.

“What won’t be different is that we will continue to strive for excellence, strive for kids, serve the community, watch our expenditures and deal with issues in a judicious manner,” Garber said.

“We have a strong board, and we will work in a collaborative way to oversee the school district.”

There are three issues currently at the forefront before the board that will be topics for discussion in the coming months, according to Garber.

Among these are the completion of $76 million in construction projects on properties across the school district, the possible purchase of artificial turf for Wheeling Park High School baseball field and proposed changes to school start times.

On the start-time changes, Ohio County Schools has invested time and money into learning what would need to happen before bus routes and the start of the day could be amended, he said.

In May, the board agreed to spend $10,000 on a “deep dive” study by Edulog seeking how to optimize the school district’s bus routes to accommodate an 8:30 a.m. start time at Wheeling Park High School. The company is researching how existing Ohio County school routes can be reconfigured to accommodate a later start time at WPHS, how this will affect the start of the day at elementary and middle schools, and if additional buses and drivers will be needed.

The Astroturf project at WPHS, meanwhile, comes at a projected cost of $1.35 million. The project isn’t covered under bond construction projects, and the cost will have to be absorbed by the general fund.

“We are completing our bond work, and construction is ongoing,” Garber said. “I will be traveling with (Superintendent Kim Miller) to go view the school project to get a feel for how things are moving.”

He expects to call some work sessions down the road, and that some of these may involve two constitutional amendments West Virginia voters could see on their ballots.

The first of these would give the State Legislature authority to exempt most business personal property and personal vehicles from the property tax – resulting in lost revenue for county school districts. The second, if approved by West Virginia voters, would clarify that the rule-making authority of the State Board of Education is subject to the review, approval, amendment, or rejection of the West Virginia Legislature.

Garber said he is still seeking out what each amendment would mean for Ohio County.

“But it doesn’t sound good for public education,” he said.

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