UPDATE: Lincoln County School Bond Levy Fails

By: WSAZ News Staff; Alex Snyder Email
By: WSAZ News Staff; Alex Snyder Email

UPDATE 2/24/13 @ 5:50 p.m.
LINCOLN COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) – School officials are trying to figure out what to do after the levy failed.

Bursting at the seams, Midway Elementary is considered old and rundown. Likewise, students have been walking the halls at Guyan Valley since 1926. But changes to the schools aren’t in the plans anymore since voters in Lincoln County rejected a bond levy on the ballot.

"We're having to add trailers to teach our kids at Midway and those trailers are getting old and are going to have to be replaced and I can't see spending more money on maintenance and replacing trailers when we could have had two new schools," said Carol Smith of the Lincoln County Board of Education.

Nearly 1,800 people said 'no' to approve the bond on the ballot while less than 600 voted for the levy.

Smith says the board is strapped and can’t build new schools on it’s own and without the public’s help the county’s future is bleak.

"Unless we can educate our public and get them to change their mind, I don't know where our kids will be 10 years from now because these buildings aren't going to stand that long -- it wouldn't surprise me a bit for a wall to fall down, that's how old they are," said Smith.

But now the school system is going back to square one to figure out what they can do next.

"It's not a good learning environment for our kids, we need to take care of our own and I think we failed to do that," said Smith.

Now the challenge is looking for other ways to stay competitive and plan for the future.

A board meeting is scheduled for Monday to discuss what's next.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest information.

UPDATE 2/23/13 at 10:00 p.m.

LINCOLN COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) – Linda Settle goes walking through the same doors she’s gone through thousands of times before. She graduated from Duval when it was still a high school back in 1964. Then, once it became a middle and elementary school, she was a cook for six years.

"When I went to school here we there wasn't no computers or anything like that. I can remember we had two electric typewriters and the rest of them were just manual -- and we got an education. So, if it's good enough for me it should be good enough for the rest of them," Settle said.

With Lincoln County’s $24 million school bond levy failing, Duval Elementary and Midway Elementary will remain open and gone with the levy are the plans to build a consolidated school between the two.

"We never get anything out here for the kids and as you can see the school we have here -- it's not good," Carol Dooley, who wanted the levy to pass said.

West Hamlin Elementary and Harts School will not be getting upgrades and Guyan Valley Middle School will remain as is and not be rebuilt.

At Lincoln County High School, over $6 million planned for new athletic fields: gone.

"It would bring better teachers, more qualified teachers to the school if they had a nice school to work in,” Dooley said.

Those who voted no are happy to see the levy fail.

"There ought to be another school built over here so the kids are not getting off the busses at 6:30 and 7:00 in the evening," Greg Nunn said.

So the majority has spoken and, for now, the bond issue is dead.

595 voted in favor of the levy and 1,777 voted opposing the levy.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest information.

UPDATE 2/22/13 @ 6:30 p.m.
LINCOLN COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Voters have one day left to decide whether they support a levy to pay for two new schools and other projects. The Lincoln County Board of Education says some people in the county have gotten negative information about the levy that could be misleading.

An ad has appeared in some mailboxes in Alum Creek and Griffithsville, telling people to vote "no" for the $24 million bond. The ad, which is anonymous, claims tax rates will go up 27 to 42 percent. It also says millions will be spent on "athletic facilities and playgrounds" with "no emphasis on academics."

Steve Priestley, president of the Lincoln County Board of Education, said he doesn't want voters to rely on deceptive information.

"If you feel like this bond is not something you think is a good idea, then certainly vote against it," Priestley said. "We urge everybody to vote yes. But if you want to, have a valid reason to do so. But don't try to get others to vote against the bond by using deceptive numbers or thoughts."

The $24 million bond would be used to build new schools and make improvements on others. Guyan Valley Middle School was built in 1926 and housed the high school until the mid-2000s. The district says it is in need of serious repair.

If the bond passes, the School Building Authority could give an additional $17 million, which would be used to build a new elementary school for students up through fifth grade who currently attend Midland or Duval.

Some money would also be spent on upgrading athletic facilities and relocating some of the current fields to Lincoln County's consolidated high school.

Greg Lambert, a coach and teacher in the district, said that he would willingly pay the higher taxes, even though his children have graduated and moved on from Lincoln County Schools. He said it's necessary to level the playing field among Lincoln County Schools and other nearby districts.

"They've got a lot of things we don't have, and our kids have to go up and compete against those people on a day to day basis," Lambert said. "I just want our kids to have a fair shake."

So how much will your tax bill increase if the levy passes? It depends on the assessment value of your home.

Homes are assessed at 60 percent of what they're worth. If your house is worth $25,000 -- the average home value in Lincoln County -- you can expect your bill to increase by just under $100 annually. If your home is worth $50,000, the number rises to $200 annually.

That number could also go up based on other property owned, such as cars and rental property. This property is also assessed at 60 percent of what it's worth and has the same levy rate as homes.

Priestley said the tax bills may go up less than expected, because the bond is based on a 6.5 percent interest rate. That's the legal maximum allowed under the levy. Priestley said the interest rate would likely be closer to 4 percent.

Almost 700 people have voted early, but close to 19,000 registered voters live in Lincoln County. The polls are open Saturday, February 23 from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.

UPDATE 2/7/13 @ 10 p.m.
LINCOLN COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Voters in Lincoln County will soon decide whether they want to support a bond that will pay for two new schools and other projects.

The bond would raise $24 million. If it's approved, the School Building Authority would grant the county an additional $17 million.

The money would go toward building a new consolidated Midway-Duval elementary and a new Guyan Valley Middle School.

Improvements would also be made at other schools in the county.

Costs will vary depending on the amount of personal property and real estate a person owns.

For example, if you own a house appraised at $100,000, taxed at 60 percent of market value, you'll pay close to $200 a year.

Over the last few weeks board members and school officials have held informational meetings about the bond and how it will affect taxes.

The last meeting was held Thursday at Midway Elementary.

"We're not waiting until that 'right time' or that 'perfect time.' We have needs now," Lincoln County Assistant Superintendent Jeff Midkiff said.

Brandi Meadows lives in Alum Creek in Lincoln County, but her kids go to school in Kanawha County. She says she will vote for the bond and move her kids to the new school if it passes.

"I would be willing to do it solely because I believe my children deserve the highest form of education they can have," Meadows said.

Angela Caruthers went to Midway. She has a child who attends here now, but because their new school would be built closer to Duval, she says she won't vote for the bond.

"They move every one of them on out toward Hamlin farther out in Lincoln,” Caruthers said. “We'd like something on our end."

Guyan Valley Principal Jonah Adkins says their building is nearly 90 years old and is deteriorating, leading to high maintenance costs, and the students deserve a new school.

"It's been a great building, but it's time for a new modern facility," he said.

Early voting on the bond begins Saturday. The election will be held February 23.

LINCOLN COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- An upcoming school bond levy was the top topic at Tuesday night’s Board of Education meeting.

Early voting gets underway this week for a school bond levy in Lincoln County, and Board of Education members talked about just how crucial it is if the measure passes.

The bond would provide more than $40 million in funding. Board members say they would use that money to build a new Midway-Duval Elementary School, a new Guyan Valley Middle School, build additions at Harts Pk-8 and West Hamlin Elementary, and build an on-site athletic facility at Lincoln County High School.

During the last few weeks, board members have held informational meetings about the bond and how it will affect taxes.

One more meeting is scheduled this week, beginning at 6 p.m. Thursday at Midway Elementary School.

The election takes place on February 23.

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