Excess levy for Mon schools on track for renewal; election marked by low turnout

·2 min read

Sep. 26—The excess levy for Monongalia County's school district looked like it was on its way to being handily renewed Saturday, despite low voter turnout — and high numbers of poll workers calling off at the last minute.

As of 9 p.m. — polls closed at 7:30 p.m. — the numbers were showing 3, 956-888 in favor of the levy.

Numbers are unofficial for now.

Meanwhile, the outlay generated by the excess levy is used to pay the salaries of school counselors and nurses, while bankrolling a multitude of other extras for the district.

Extras such as the purchasing of Chromebook computers for remote learning and the funding of vision and dental riders for employee insurance plans.

While it was still a struggle, Mon's district fared better than others across the state at the height of the pandemic last year when schools were shuttered, longtime Board of Education incumbent Nancy Walker said.

Thank the voters who support the measure for that, the BOE president said.

"The excess makes us who we are, " she said.

"It's why we were able to come ahead. Those dollars do a lot."

Advanced placement classes are also funded in part by the excess levy, she said.

So are the district's extensive foreign language offerings.

And the summer enrichment programs, too, she said, which became even more critical after the pandemic-padlocking of school buildings following Gov. Jim Justice's order in March 2020.

"Look at all our kids who go to all those Ivy League schools, " Walker said. "Look how well-prepared they are."

Carye Blaney, Mon's county clerk, said her office was a prepared as it could be, under the circumstances of holding a special election on a Saturday.

Before the election, she pushed early voting and absentee voting, both for convenience and concerns over the Delta variant, which is roiling across West Virginia.

All 41 of Mon's precincts were able to open at 6:30 a.m. as scheduled, despite the call-offs.

"We knew that was going to be a challenge, " she said.

"But we had other workers lined up and everyone did a good job."

Voters lined up, also, she said.

Just not as many as she would have liked to have seen.

A total of 4, 732 ballots were cast among the county's 59, 588 registered voters, making for a turnout of just under 8 %, counting early voting, absentee ballots and day-of voting at the precincts.

Blaney said 2, 174 votes were made in person Saturday.

"That's one of the lowest turnouts I've seen since I've been here, " she said.

"We were steady, but it was like a slow, trickling steady, " said Blaney, who has been county clerk since 2007.

"We just didn't have a lot of people."

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