- Associated Press - Sunday, October 11, 2015

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - West Virginia’s public schools face an estimated $16 million cut in state aid under spending reductions ordered by the governor, and Berkeley and Kanawha counties’ budgets will take the biggest hit.

Kanawha County is expected to lose about $1.6 million, while Berkeley County’s reduction will be around $1 million, state figures show.

The level of cuts won’t be finalized until Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin issues an executive order this week, Joe Panetta, the Department of Education’s chief operations officer, told The Charleston Gazette-Mail (https://bit.ly/1jX636X ).

Tomblin ordered a 1 percent reduction in state public school aid last week, along with an across-the-board 4 percent spending cut for state agencies. Tomblin said the cuts are necessary because of unexpected and unprecedented drops in severance tax revenues.

Calhoun County’s school system, which has been working to reduce a deficit, is expected to lose $73,000 in state aid. The deficit exceeds one-fifth of the school system’s operating budget and is the largest in West Virginia.

“In a county like Calhoun, we’re already living hand to mouth,” Tim Woodward, Calhoun County’s schools superintendent, told the newspaper. “So it’s not that easy to say take $73,000 off the budget.”

Kanawha County schools Superintendent Ron Duerring said his county is still evaluating how the expected cut will be handled.

“It could be a host of things,” he told the newspaper.

Funding cuts for the Department of Education and other agencies overseen by the state Board of Education will total $5 million. Education officials have not determined where the cuts will be made, Panetta said.

Tomblin excluded some areas from the spending cuts, including the amount the state must pay annually to also receive federal dollars to feed needy students.

The school funding formula measures student enrollment, teachers’ salaries and other factors to determine how much money each county gets annually.

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Information from: The Charleston Gazette-Mail, https://wvgazettemail.com.


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