WHEELING – Ohio County Board of Education chairman David Croft believes he has a solution to ensure the school district’s continued financial support for the Ohio County Public Library.
He suggests that a percentage of library funding should be written into the language in the next Ohio County Schools Excess Tax after the current tax expires in 2025. School District Library Funding would then be mandatory, according to Croft.
West Virginia school districts have not been required by state law to fund county libraries since such a requirement was abolished by the state legislature in 2013.
After that, three counties – Kanwaha, Cabell and Wood counties – chose to tie library funding wording to their excess charges.
The approval of the expenditure within the framework of the excess withdrawal is law.
“That way, whoever the five members of the education board are, they won’t have an impact on what the library receives.” Croft explained.
“When the law requires you to pay for something, you pay for it. It is not discretionary. “
At the end of April, Croft was joined by Christine Carder and Molly Aderholt, members of the Ohio County Board of Education, in voting to reduce school district library funding for the coming fiscal year. The change increased funding from 3 cents per $ 100 of assessed property value to 2 cents, and reduced it to about $ 884,547 per year to $ 589,698 this year.
Board members Grace Norton and Pete Chacalos voted against cutting library funds.
When asked if Ohio County schools get their value from the money they provide to the library, Croft said “It’s not a yes or no question.”
“This is something that we will evaluate at the start of the next fiscal year”, he said.
Croft said the issue would likely be reassessed in early 2022 to take into account any changes to current funding the board may want to make.
Ohio County Public Library Director Dottie Thomas detailed what the library brings to schools in Ohio County.
She said library children’s specialist Lee Ann Cleary spent half of her time in county schools – public, private and parochial – reading to students.
The library was also instrumental in providing several thousand electronic library cards to students in Ohio County schools. Audio and video books were purchased for students so they could access them virtually for reading homework, according to Thomas.
She said the library was involved in literacy programs and had arranged for student groups from Ohio County schools to come to the library as part of the Leadership and Literacy Grant. The students returned that evening with their parents to discuss library services.
The library also purchases books for multimedia centers and classrooms in the school district. Schools tell the library what books they need, and the library makes it easy to order, according to Thomas.
“In today’s world, with two working parents, it’s harder for families to get to the library. Thomas said. “We thought we should put the resources where students can access them the most.
“It’s harder for students to come here than before. This is the way the library provides materials to students.
At this week’s Ohio County Library Trustees meeting, Thomas read aloud a thank you note received from the Warwood School. The library had purchased there for the music program a collection of videos and manuals on the great composers of music, as well as a portable audio system.
Sean Duffy, director of adult programs at the library, said that before last year’s pandemic, the library had partnered with Ohio County schools for some programs. A Story of African Americans in Wheeling was presented to students at Triadelphia Middle School and others at Wheeling Park High School during Black History Month in February.
A similar program was created with a focus on immigration to Ohio County, he said.
“We have made beneficial programs for young adults and we plan to take them on the road to other schools”, said Duffy. “We will design more.”
A career experience for students at the library is not possible, the employees explained. Jobs such as document scanning are specialized and sent to an outside company, Thomas said.
She said circulation work is also not something the library would want students to do.
Client files are also kept safe in the library, and even volunteers are not allowed to access them, she said.