The state Department of Education will be allowed to make changes to the proposed budget that already has been sent to the Governor's Office because there is a new superintendent of schools.
Jim Phares, sworn in Wednesday as state superintendent, said at the ceremony that Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin offered him a week's extension to examine the department's proposed budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1. Tomblin spokeswoman Amy Shuler Goodwin confirmed that Tomblin had granted the extension.
The superintendent is responsible for drafting the department's budget request every year. The initial request was due to the State Budget Office in early September. Jorea Marple was superintendent at that time and did submit a proposal.
The leadership change may warrant changes in the budget, Goodwin said.
"We certainly want to work with the superintendent on his priorities and give him the opportunity to review the budget," Goodwin said in a phone interview.
Tomblin in August asked state agencies to cut 7.5 percent from their budget proposals for the next fiscal year to help cover rising Medicaid costs.
Several entities are exempt from the cuts, including the school aid formula. The formula determines how much state funding will go to the 55 county public school systems. It accounts for roughly half of the state's $4 billion general revenue budget.
The education department itself is not exempt from the cuts. In her letter to the Department of Revenue, Marple said the 7.5 percent cut would translate to roughly $9 million.
"The budget reduction negatively impacts the delivery of program and services to students throughout West Virginia," Marple said, echoing statements from other department heads.
Of the $9 million, $1.2 million would come from reducing personnel costs. As of Dec. 13 there were 34 unfilled positions at the department, according to department spokeswoman Liza Cordeiro. Five new positions were also created, she said in an email.