Say Yes to Ohio County Schools

For many years, Ohio County voters have approved local taxes in excess of those required by the state for local schools. Once again this year, voters should renew the additional property tax levies.

On the ballot for the May 13 primary election is a request to renew the levies for another five years. Doing so would net Ohio County schools an estimated $12.4 million a year.

Income from the additional levies has become an integral part of the Ohio County schools budget in the decades since voters first began approving the measure. About 20 percent of what the school system spends each year comes from the levy.

It is needed now perhaps more than ever, for two reasons. First, state funding for the local school system is being reduced. Second, Ohio County schools, like others throughout West Virginia, are in the midst of a years-long improvement campaign.

Evidence local educators are taking it very seriously can be seen in high school graduation rates. Just four years ago, at the end of the 2009-10 school year, Wheeling Park High School had a graduation rate of 77.25 percent.

Now, according to the state Department of Education, the graduation rate is nearly 93 percent.

Are there ways in which local schools could be improved? Of course. But again, Ohio County educators seem to be focused on that very thing – and it shows.

Without the additional levy money, local schools would be devastated. Thousands of Ohio County children would have to attend second- or even third-class public schools.

Local voters have indicated many times in the past they have no intention of allowing that to happen. Those casting ballots in the May 13 primary should take the same stance – and vote yes for the Ohio County schools levy.