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Students pay the price if school levy fails

KANAWHA County voters are asked to make a decision on Saturday, Nov. 9, when the school board and library system put an excess levy on the ballot. Early voting begins tomorrow and runs through Nov. 6.

 The question is: How much are voters willing to support their local public school and library systems?

Daily Mail Education Reporter Shay Maunz reported that without the levy, the school system may be forced to require students to pay to participate in extracurricular activities.

"Pay to play" fees might have a detrimental effect on the students who need encouragement to stay in school the most.

Scott Smith, chairman of the Department of Physical Education and Sport at Central Michigan University, researched pay-to-play programs. "It becomes a program for the elite, and that is absolutely not what high school sports should be about," he said.

G.A. Buie, president of the National Association of Secondary School Principals, said, "There are so many carrots we use to keep kids motivated academically . . . when you take that away sometimes they don't have the motivation to go to school, or to do well in school."

Kanawha County has a 72.1 percent graduation rate for its eight high schools, ranging from a high of 83 percent at George Washington to a low of 60.7 percent at Capital.

Would the graduation rate be affected if some students could not afford to participate in extracurricular activities? Is it worth taking the risk to find out?

Without the new excess levy, the school system faces a deficit next year of $4.5 million while the Kanawha County Public Library system faces losing 40 percent of its funding.

With passage of the levy, the school system will gain an additional $24.4 million next year (increasing slightly each year to $28 million in year five).

Yes, it's a big jump in revenue for schools. The additional funds are much higher than simply covering the expected deficit, but staying the course is not sufficient.

Kanawha County Schools must relentlessly pursue better efficiency. Citizens must relentlessly pursue better schools.

This tax is an investment in the future workforce. Without the levy, today's students will have reduced access to the activities that enliven the school experience and less opportunity to learn.

The Daily Mail recommends a vote for this levy.


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