Cutting Hancock School Spending

Cuts in state aid have hurt school systems throughout West Virginia. Unless something unexpected occurs in Charleston, there is no reason to believe the reductions will be reversed.

Some counties have been able to offset reduced state aid by increases in local tax revenue credited largely to the gas and oil drilling boom. But many school systems do not have that crutch.

Hancock County is among them. In December, school Superintendent Kathy Kidder-Wilkerson told board of education members Hancock County is one of 13 counties placed on a state financial watch list.

“Being on the watch list, (state officials) are comparing your to other districts and how much money you have in your carryover, and whether you would be able to sustain your school system if there were a large loss in the tax base,” Kidder-Wilkerson said.

At least the county is not in a budget deficit position. Five counties are.

Revenue from the state aid formula is based on a county school system’s enrollment. Hancock County has lost 172 students since 2012, so it may face another decrease in state funding. More information on that is expected to be available early this month.

Joe Campinelli, the school system’s director of finance, has said his department is studying how spending can be cut. He added, “there’s not a lot of fat there.”

Unfortunately, board members may have no choice but to cut spending, even if that means eliminating some worthwhile programs. Their task early this year will be to minimize the damage to Hancock County students.

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