CABELL COUNTY, W.Va. — The Cabell County Board of Education made a large commitment to advance the area’s parks and libraries on Tuesday evening, as members took a look at the county’s excess levy proposal.

In the meeting, $1.7 million in equalization payments for the 2024-2025 fiscal year was approved for the county’s parks and the Greater Huntington Park and Recreation District.

Newly appointed Cabell County Schools Superintendent Tim Hardesty says it’s been a divisive issue, but the decision today will help the youth of the area.

“This has been a divisive issue for our community,” Hardesty said Tuesday evening. “I know I wasn’t here for that part last year, but I think this is going to take steps to help us move together and work together as a community and meet the needs of our kids and all of our families throughout Cabell County.”

What caused some of the division recently was when the board voted last year to reduce funding for parks and libraries in a five-year school excess levy.

Former Cabell County Schools Superintendent and current Berkeley County Schools Superintendent Ryan Saxe, previously cited decreasing in student enrollment, lack of additional COVID-19 funds and inflation as reasons for the potential cuts.

This May, the former levy failed at the Primary Election, with around 64% of citizens voting against it.

Hardesty, who has been on the job in Cabell County for less than two weeks, said it was imperative to address this issue as soon as he arrived.

“This is an issue that I knew I had to address immediately,” Hardesty said. “One, for the community to support us as a district, but two, to resolve the conflict and division that was throughout our community.”

Breana Bowen, executive director of the Cabell County Public Library System, said in the board meeting that the work Hardesty has been faced with over the past week warrants some time off.

“My goodness, the amount of work that they’ve put into a week since you’ve been here, you already deserve a vacation,” Bowen said.

Hardesty took the job in Cabell County after previously serving as the superintendent for Mason County Schools. Before that role, Hardesty was the assistant superintendent in Cabell County, and he says this issue affected him and his family before he even took over.

“As a father of a Cabell County student who just graduated, we took advantage, and we still do take advantage of the parks and the libraries on a regular basis,” Hardesty said. “Being someone that wasn’t looking at it just as an employee because, at the time last year I was not, looking at it just as a community member and someone who had a student that was still in Cabell County, you see things just a little bit differently.”

Hardesty also said that after today, the community can start a healing process after the division the past levy brought.

“There is a bit of healing we have to do as a community, and that can start now, and we can start coming together as a community,” Hardesty said. “I think it’s important that they see the school district as part of that community and not something that’s going to cause a division within the community.”

Lori Murray, a Cabell County educator, said what the county is doing is for the sake of their students.

“I think everyone in this room can agree, the most important thing is our students, and what we’re doing is for the sake of our students,” Murray said during the meeting. ” As long as we all head in that direction and that’s the main goal, then we can’t go wrong.”

The new levy order will now take to the November general election, where it will be voted upon by Cabell County residents.

Leave a Reply