Pleasants County voters approve excess levy for schools

ST. MARYS, W.Va. – Pleasants County voters, again, overwhelmingly approved its continuing excess levy.

The excess levy was approved Saturday by more than 67 percent of the voters. Pleasants County Clerk officials said out of 859 voters Saturday, 579 approved the levy.

It was the only issue on the ballot. The five-year levy has been approved by Pleasants County voters since 1954.

Donna Barksdale, assistant superintendent of Pleasants County schools, said she didn’t think anyone was worried.

“You always want to make sure people who support it get out and vote,” she said. “I think the community is very supportive of education in general and the school system.”

Heather Straight, president of the Pleasants County Board of Education, was thrilled by voters’ approval.

“People in Pleasants County have been extremely supportive of giving kids anything we can to keep them busy and successful,” she said.

Straight said county residents have never shied away from schools, parks or recreation. It’s the reason she and her family moved back to the area about a decade ago. Straight – who now works in Vienna -spent a year commuting to work in Clarksburg, from Belmont, so her son could start school in Pleasants County. She has four children, her oldest is a sophomore at St. Marys High School. Her toddler will start preschool next year.

The excess levy – running at 83 percent -pays for employees not covered through the state aid formula, as well everything technology equipment and maintenance. Straight said the excess levy also supports things outside the school system, such as the library, 4-H and the health department.

The levy is not to be confused with the Pleasants County school bond, which was approved a few years ago, providing funding – along with help from the West Virginia School Building Authority – for a new high school and athletics complex and renovations to Belmont Elementary.

“Things would be different overnight if we didn’t have that,” she said. “You can look at surrounding communities to see that and what it would look like.”

“It would obviously be very difficult for the school system if we didn’t have the excess levy,” Barksdale said.