Aug. 5, 2009
 
Cabell County Board of Education Allocates Nearly $7 Million in Stimulus Funds
How Much Funding Does County Receive from State Lottery to be Researched
 
By Tony Rutherford
Huntingtonnews.net Reporter
 
Huntington, WV (HNN) – Subject to jumping lots of spending hurdles and hoops, the Cabell County Board of Education has received nearly $7 million in one-time stimulus funding through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The funds are over and above those in the current budget.
 
The monies include approximately $3.54 million for Title I; $3.36 million for special education; and 13,205 for NSLP Food Service. According to Gerry Sawrey, assistant superintendent for school improvement, Governor Joe Manchin has “the discretion” to distribute other State Fiscal Stabilization Funds; however, he “has not released those funds yet.”
 
The Cabell Board has already received the other aforementioned monies. (You can download in pdf form a list of areas where the Board will implement these onetime appropriations that cover a two year period by clicking HERE.)
 
Ms. Sawrey explained that the funds have spending deadlines (two years) and must be used to advance educational reforms. The use of the ARRA money must be transparent and three additional guiding principles are: Restoration or creation of jobs, transformational investments in schools and classrooms, and improve classroom instruction so ALL students can achieve international benchmarked standards.
 
Although the funds held by Gov. Manchin have greater use flexibility, the Board’s recently received, allocated and approved funding fell within the Title I program (level the playing field for disadvantaged children) and Special Education.
 
Since the one time only designation applied, generally, the money has not been used to create additional jobs, as funding would end unless the Board added positions to its own budget. However, three positions for Technical Integration Specialists were funded. These employees would educate teachers in the use of technology in the classroom.
 
Sawrey indicated that studies have shown in an age where “students love instant gratification” A lot of these “big ticket items” allow mobile labs, new laptop computers, and wireless networking. But, the “responder” technology allows pre-kindergarten and kindergarten students to give a teacher instant feedback during a discussion. The teacher immediately learns, what the students have grasped and what needs to be gone over again.
 
A social worker will be hired to work with homeless and delinquent students. Ms. Sawrey explained that the definition of “homeless” now extends beyond sleeping in a car with their family. “The definition is very broad and the population is increasing,” she said.
 
Funded Special Education activities concentrate on reading support facilitation both in class and at home. Purchases include ELMOs, projectors, replenishment of library books, and specialized math and reading software.
 
Funds will allow teachers to interact with other teachers during the school day in a “back porch” non-stressful environment.
 
As Cabell County has one of the state’s highest rates of juveniles with potentially court related issues, the Board joined Huntington City Council in asking the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals to retain the juvenile referee program. Superintendent William Smith explained that more counties have been asking for referee programs, and the court does not have money to fund all of them. Thus, the court has determined it will withdraw the funds for the successful programs that it had been supporting.
 
Jody Lucas, treasurer, told the Board that the “final statements” came today, August 4, from municipal bonds and the general fund will finish “a little on the positive side.” Actual financial data will be provided at the September meeting.
 
Cabell County has averaged about 82% of its budget for personnel. Lucas would like to hit the “target” salary expenditure of 80%, but reminded that the board is not in the 85% category which he termed as a “not healthy” expenditure scenario.
 
Board Member Bessie Holley inquired about what she termed “misleading” financial data that went out with this year’s tax bills. Money allocated to such entities as the Cabell County Public Library and Greater Huntington Parks and Recreation Commission were combined into the total “money going to Cabell County schools,” Holley said.
 
Left unanswered, an inquiry from board member Mary Neely who asked about how much money the school system receives from the state lottery. Lucas stated , “I’m not sure,” but all recognized that a portion of ticket sales are dedicated for education. “The lottery is buried in [state] funds [and] we get a percentage of the general fund,” Lucas surmised. He told Neely and the other members that he would ask state education officials for an estimate, if one is available.



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