Personal stories surround BOE decision

By Terry Bartley - Civitas Media

MADISOIN ,W.Va. — The idea that there will be some form of personal ramifications for the employees of Boone County Schools was a common consensus at the special meeting on July 7 to address the budgetary concerns. The room was filled with teachers and service personnel and each agreed they were there because they were unsure what their jobs will look like in the coming school year.

Some speakers offered personal stories, while others spoke broadly about what these directives could mean for teachers. Carrena Rouse, the Boone County President of the American Federation of Teachers, as well as a long-time Boone County teacher, campaigned for the ability for everyone that will be affected by these changes to have a voice on the panel to determine these cuts.

“We want some time for all the stakeholders to be at the table when you decide the course of action for Boone County Schools, employees and most importantly, our students,” Rouse said.

One concern that was brought up throughout the meeting was the fact that Boone County School employees have recently changed insurance plans. The plan results in higher prices for medical care and medication, a larger concern now with the possibility of salary cuts.

Rouse offered a personal anecdote about her experience with this new insurance plan.

“Yesterday my husband picked up my new prescription under my new PEIA plan, so from a $0 co-pay, he paid $15 out of it, that is after my tri-care insurance kicked in on it. That’s a big jump and that’s just one of the medications I take,” Rouse said.

Rouse said that while she is not in a dire medical condition, she fears for those that are.

Rouse also said that there is a very real possibility that many teachers are going to be leaving Boone County Schools. She said she has already been receiving calls from teachers considering it.

“In the next few weeks, you’re going to see an exodus from this county that is unreal, when they call me and say ‘should I take this job?’ I’m sorry to tell them yes,” Rouse said, “I see us falling in a hole and I pray that you do something about that.”

Other concerns held by school employees was the uncertainty that they would be receiving a timely pay check for the month of August. Superintendent of Boone County Schools, Jeff Huffman, confirmed that there was enough money in the accounts to cover July’s payroll, but not enough to cover August without the help of state aid. At the end of the meeting, several could be heard saying that they may not be taking a vacation this summer because they did not know if they could afford it.

One certainty from the meeting was the feeling that this wasn’t going to be the end of budget reductions. This was confirmed by Huffman.

“Considering the fact that there has been a loss of enrollment and it looks like there will be additional losses, I have no doubt that there will have to be further cuts,” Huffman said.

By Terry Bartley

Civitas Media

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