Dr. James Phares, superintendent of Randolph County Schools, addressed Elkins Rotary Club members at their weekly luncheon on Monday regarding the importance of passing the school levy.
"We have tried to present the levy in the manner of an information campaign instead of a political one. The idea being that if we present the information as to why the excess levy is needed and how the money will be spent, voters will have a much better understanding of the underlying reasons why it is needed," Phares said. "If people understand the issues, they can make decisions based on facts not political innuendo."
If passed, the levy would go into effect on July 1, 2011.
"Should the levy pass," Phares said, "it is structured in a manner that will cap each year's proceeds at a maximum of $2.8 million and a maximum of $14 million over the five-year life of the program. Levy proceeds will be in addition to money received through the state Board of Education's school allocation formula."
According to Phares, the levy is 100 percent student centered - no proceeds of the levy will benefit the staff and support personnel. The money will be spent in support of school programs within the county including library partnerships, ArtsBank, music, elementary field trip support, extracurricular program support, technology and maintenance.
Phares noted that the levy is needed to keep all schools in operation.
"The desire of the people to keep their school open and functioning is as strong in Pickens and Harman as it is in Elkins," Phares said.
He also noted the importance of keeping each school open because of the time and travel restraints placed on the transport of younger children.
"Passage of the levy will also eliminate some of the fundraising efforts by children trying to raise money for extracurricular activities during their non-school time," Phares said. "Each year children spend countless hours trying to sell various products to community members in their efforts to raise money to support extracurricular activities. A part the levy proceeds will go to support these activities and eliminate the need of student's trying to raise money for these projects."
Phares asked that everyone consider the benefits of passing the levy and the effects of not passing it.
"We've spent the last 18 months gathering information, assembling data and doing all we can to win back the confidence of the citizens of Randolph County so that we can create a better school system for our children," Phares said. "I ask that every voter consider what this will do for our students and whether or not the levy is a worthwhile investment in them."
In other Rotary news, Rotary International has declared Oct. 24-29 as Global Polio Eradication week with Oct. 24 designated as World Polio Eradication Day.
You do not have to be a Rotarian to help in this cause. You may contribute to the Elkins Rotary Club's efforts to do its part toward raising $200 million to match $355 million in challenge grants received from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
The resulting $555 million will directly support immunization campaigns in developing countries where polio continues to infect and paralyze children robbing them of their futures and compounding the hardships faced by their families. Donations may be made through any Rotarian.
For more information, visit www.rotary.org.
To help raise money in support of RI's campaign against the deadly disease, the Rotary Club of Elkins is sponsoring a Polio Plus Concert at Harper-McNeeley Auditorium at Davis and Elkins College on Nov. 11.
Billed as "A Concert to End Polio," the extravaganza will feature approximately 20 local musicians, singing groups and musical-comedy groups from Elkins and Randolph County.
Doors will open at 7 p.m. and the concert will get under way at 7:30 p.m.
Admission is $10 in advance or $12 at the door.
Advance tickets may be obtained from any Rotarian and from Hoy Ferguson at Davis Trust Co., 304-636-0991, ext. 276; Sue Pifer at Elkins Sewing Center, 304-636-9480; The Inter-Mountain, 304-636-2121; Pat Schumann at Davis & Elkins College, 304-637-1340 or 304-642-9431; the Elkins-Randolph County Chamber of Commerce, 304-636-2717; or Randolph County Development Authority, 304-637-0803.