"When it fails, we're going to have to pare down our huge bureaucracy," he said. "We're not cutting programs."
In West Virginia, 21 school systems are currently operating with excess levies that are set at 100 percent of the legal limit. Eleven have been unable to get voters to approve an excess levy at all.
The rest of the state's county school systems - 23 - are operating somewhere in between, with excess levies capped at a percentage of the total allowed by law.
"Look at Putnam County," Raglin said. "They don't have a cap at all. And they have continued to collect the full amount while we have set a cap, and they have moved ahead of us in terms of salaries with their teachers and their principals.
"We are not competitive where we need to be."
Deurring last year argued for a higher cap - he wanted excess levy revenue to increase by about $1.5 million a year, topping out at $45.7 million in 2019 as property values increased over the five-year term.
"With no additional revenues coming in any way, shape or form, I think there will be some real issues the school system will be faced with down the road," Duerring told the Daily Mail in January 2012.
"I only ask you consider that as you take a look at it because we're deciding the fate of kids all the way up to 2019."
Instead, the board went with a five-year flat cap at $44.2 million, and the levy was projected to reach that level in its first year, the 2014-15 fiscal year.
The cap means that the school system can't collect anything beyond that level until the levy expires in 2019. That would cause individual tax rates to decrease over time as property values rise.
About 66 percent of voters were in favor.
But this past January, school board members were shocked by a presentation from Duerring that projected a $4.5 million deficit as soon as the new excess levy took effect.
In the months since, they've scrambled to decide how to avoid the impending deficit.
"It just hit us like a ton of bricks," said board member Becky Jordon. "We messed up, and now we're behind compared to other school systems, and we shouldn't be."
The school system was granted a reprieve by a February state Supreme Court decision that freed it from a decades-old funding relationship with the county's public library system that the school system felt had been a drain on its finances.
That $3 million a year it was no longer required to give the library would have moved the school system closer to financial stability.
But eventually, the school board bowed to pressure to continue funding the library system voluntarily on some level. Money from the school system accounted for 40 percent of the library's operating budget.
Board members agreed last month to give the library about $2 million in the budget year that starts this July 1.
At that point, library officials were working on a proposal for their own levy to be put to county voters at the same time the school board revised its excess levy.
But that is not the proposal currently in the works.
Only one levy proposal will be pitched to voters in a special election on Nov. 9. If it passes, the library will receive $3 million in the first year, and the sum rises gradually over the five-year term.
If it fails, the library stands to lose all of its school system funding in the budget year that starts July 1, 2014.
School officials would have to do without the extra $21 million but still would be able to collect $44 million from the excess levy approved last year.
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