CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The Kanawha County Board of Education is in the middle of its budget-making process for next fiscal year.

Kanawha County School Superintendent Tom Williams

Tom Williams

The board is looking at a budget of approximately $330 million. Members voted in favor of regular levy and excess levy rates during a brief school board meeting Wednesday. The levy rates will not change from the current budget.

Kanawha County School Superintendent Tom Williams said the budget reflects a student enrollment reduction of more than 500 students.

“Anytime you lose kids that means we have to cut staff members. That’s what we’re working on now and that’s what we have been doing,” Williams said.

The proposal is to cut approximately 55 professional positions to align teachers with the number of students. Williams said that number would have been more had not the board voted last year to close four elementary schools at the end of this school year.

“I think it would have initially been in the 70s,” Williams said.

The BOE has held several personnel hearings during the past two weeks for those employees impacted by the reduction in force.

Williams is hopeful most of those losing their jobs will be rehired because of the attrition of others through retirements and transfers.

“That’s just a year by year thing but we’ll see if we are able to do that this year but most of the time we are,” he said.

Some counties in West Virginia are proposing significant personnel cuts because covid-related federal funding is running out. Williams said Kanawha County chose not to use most of its covid money on personnel. He said instead they used it on things like new roofs for schools and HVAC system replacements. Williams said KCS began reducing that type of spending in the current budget.

One feature of the new budget is that it will include new excess levy funding for school security updates, Williams said.

School board members will hold a public hearing on the proposed budget on May 13 and take a final vote on May 15.