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Phares responds to locals’ questions

September 29, 2012
By Beth Christian Broschart - Staff Writer , The Inter-Mountain

The Randolph County superintendent of schools responded to allegations made at a public meeting earlier this week that he offered school system employees money in exchange for voting for the 2010 levy.

A resident at Wednesday's bond call meeting at Harman School told Dr. James Phares she was told he offered $500 to each employee if they voted to pass the $14 million excess levy. She also said that when the levy passed, the employees received nothing because of taxes.

Phares emphatically denied the charges during the meeting, and told The Inter-Mountain Thursday evening that he assumed the woman was confused about a request from school employee unions.

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"The American Federation of Teachers had approached the board of education asking for a supplement for the local share where each employee would receive a $500 stipend," Phares said. "The board voted 5 to 0 to approve the supplement in 2011."

Phares said the $500 stipend was subject to indirect costs that were different for each employee, based on deductions, retirement and other costs.

"I believe the lowest payment was approximately $289 after these indirect costs," Phares said.

Also during the Harman meeting Wednesday, a resident asked Phares why the board paid money to the Greenbrier Hotel, Randolph County United Way, the Old Brick Playhouse and the Beverly Historic Society. The resident said he thought all money should go to direct education, not travel.

At the Harman meeting, Phares explained some of the school system's funding received from the federal government is restricted, and Title 6 funds were only to be used for staff development.

"The payment to Greenbrier Hotel was when some students went to tour the bunker," Phares said. "The payment to the Randolph County United Way is where employees have their donations taken directly from their paychecks, then we forward that money to the United Way."

Phares said the funds for the Old Brick Playhouse pay for an educational program they host. The funds sent to the Beverly Historical Society paid for events at the Outdoor Education Program.

Phares stressed that he is asking county residents to consider the bond proposal and decide for themselves how to vote.

If passed, the bond call will be spread over 15 years and will use $13 million dollars to leverage $22 million for needed repairs, renovations and additions for the community based schools.

If the bond call passes, the School Building Authority will pay $9 million toward the proposed renovations and additions.

The bond call and the SBA money are contingent on one another.

The final Randolph County Schools bond call information meeting is slated for 6:30 p.m. Oct. 10 at Elkins High School.



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