Kanawha County recently asked the authority for an additional $1 million for the new Edgewood area elementary school, which is now under construction. The authority already had pledged more than $10 million toward the project, and a few board members questioned why Kanawha County had capped the amount of money it could receive from its local excess levy.
During the September meeting, authority board member Tom Lange said he thought it was irresponsible of Kanawha County to cap the excess levy - an additional layer of property tax that provides millions of dollars annually for the county school system.
Although Lange and board member Wade Linger were the only two board members to vote against the additional funding for the Edgewood school, Wilson thinks the board's message does not bode well for future funding.
Kanawha County Board of Education President Pete Thaw said he also was not optimistic about funding for the John Adams project. He thinks the stance of Lange and others is "outrageous" but the county will continue to look for other funding arrangements if the project isn't approved.
More classrooms at John Adams are one of the avenues the county is considering to alleviate overcrowding at schools in South Hills. After officials confirmed they were also discussing the idea of moving Alum Creek and Ruthlawn elementary school students out of the John Adams attendance zone, parents and others voiced their displeasure.
About 70 parents and others who might be affected by the redistricting came to a board meeting last week. Several parents told the board they hoped it would consider asking county voters to authorize borrowing money for school projects via a bond sale. They also suggested raising private funds.
Thaw said Monday he favors the idea of adding onto John Adams. But he won't support making that happen with bond funds, which would be repaid through temporarily higher property taxes.
"I believe the people of Kanawha County are taxed right now to the max," Thaw said. "I am never going to vote for a bond issue because the people can't take any more bonds."
Thaw didn't know how exactly the county could fund the addition but thought it would find a way other than tax increases. Given how adamant people have been about the addition, he thought they might "join me at ringing the bell at the kettle" in the search for funding.
Manchin said his staff is researching all of the projects that have been submitted to the authority. He said he did not want to speculate on the prospects of the John Adams project but said the board is aware of the overcrowding concerns.
But he also said the wherewithal of larger counties to put money toward projects so the authority can provide more help to smaller, rural counties plays a part in the decision-making process.
The authority will discuss the projects and award funds during its December meeting.