Most residents of Marshall, Wetzel and Tyler counties understand the importance of education and insist on good public schools. For more than half a century, voters have taken their share of responsibility for that by approving tax levies to supplement other education funding sources.
Later this month, voters in all three counties will be asked to renew those longstanding levies. They should do so.
A special election to decide the levy in Tyler County will be held on Friday, Dec. 14. Special elections for the Marshall and Wetzel County levies will be on Saturday, Dec. 15.
Educators in all three counties have worked hard for decades to earn voters' trust by providing quality, often innovative, instruction for students. Voters have repaid that dedication with an impressive record of support: Special school levies in all three counties were first adopted in the middle of the last century. They have been renewed every time the issues were on the ballot.
At least during the past few decades, there never has been any doubt on the levies. The last time Tyler County's issue came up for renewal, 83 percent of voters said yes. In Wetzel County, the percentage was 82 and in Marshall, 64.
That says something important about how residents of the three counties - as skeptical as anyone about taxes - view paying a few dollars a year more to get the best public schools they can afford.
Though regular local and state taxes provide basic support for school systems in West Virginia, the special levies have become absolutely essential to quality education in the three counties. They cover a variety of expenses ranging from salary supplements to special education services, from equipment for activities such as bands to all-important technology improvements.
The combination of dedicated, capable school personnel and unwavering support by voters has paid off. State statistics show all three county school systems perform well, in comparison to others in West Virginia. For example, the average high school graduation rate for the state is 77.9 percent. Rates for the three local schools are: Marshall County, 85.9 percent; Wetzel County, 86.4 percent; and Tyler County, 94.6 percent.
One important consideration regarding the levies is that renewing them will not increase tax rates in the three counties. Again, these are merely renewals of existing taxes.
It is vital that educators in the three counties continue to receive the support they need - and will use wisely and effectively - to make public schools even better. For that reason, The Intelligencer endorses school levies in Marshall, Wetzel and Tyler counties, and recommends voters once again renew them.