Five years ago, my then family of 3, moved to Elkins the year the levy was passed. Being new to Randolph County, and not having any children in school, I did not fully understand the effects the levy would have on area schools, until recently. It’s five years later, my family of 3 has grown to 4, one child is in school, another one starting next year, and it’s time for our community to decide if we will renew the current school levy for 5 more years. And then the question arises, how exactly has the levy money (aka our tax dollars) been used in Randolph County schools over the past 5 years?
I decided to take this question to my son’s second grade teacher. One day after school last week, I stopped by my son’s classroom and politely asked his teacher if she would give me a list of everything levy money (our tax dollars) has provided her classroom. With great delight she said, “Absolutely!” The next day my son came home with a notebook piece of paper full of everything levy money (our tax dollars) has provided her classroom. The items on her list were more than a “school supply list,” but don’t get me wrong, I ABSOLUTELY LOVE not having to buy school supplies at the beginning of each school year.
My son’s classroom is bright and cheery from being recently painted, paint purchased with levy money. There are no desks, but rather small circular tables and chairs, with chair book pockets (see above picture) on each chair for every child. Bookshelves line almost two full walls of the classroom and are full of books in all reading levels. There are school supplies (crayons, scissors, markers, glue, construction paper), folders, notebooks, counting tiles, word charts, organizers, binders, and even a huge fish tank, all items (except the fish tank) have been purchased with levy money.
The classroom has several computers (desktops and laptops) with Internet access, a SMART Board, LCD projector, and a document camera (which is used to capture real-time images and then projected through the LDC projector onto the SMART Board). One cannot mention all this technology without mentioning the infrastructure that was recently updated throughout the school to support the technology equipment in ALL the classrooms. And let’s not forget all the training and staff development that my son’s teacher has received in the last 4 years to learn how to integrate this technology into her curriculum. The majority of this training and staff development has been provided by our county Technology Integration Specialist’s (TIS) who have a lot knowledge about, and experience with, the current innovations and implementation of educational technology in PK-12 classrooms. At the young age of 7 my son, and his classmates, are beginning to develop the skills and knowledge that they will need to be competitive, successful, and skilled in the technology-oriented world beyond high school. All of this would not have been possible without school levy money!
In the last 5 years Randolph County Schools have used our tax dollars to create schools that are innovative, safe, and conducive to learning. In the 21st century the quality of life for our children, families and communities in Randolph County will be defined by our ability to educate our citizens, and by the ways we use that education in our economic and civic life. Therefore, on November 7th I will vote YES to renew the school levy. I want my tax dollars to stay in Randolph County to not only help my children receive a quality education, but for all school children.