Tyler County school enrollment plummets
A full house attended the March 16 Tyler County Board of Education meeting as the Board of education was once again forced to come to grips with a loss of student enrollment and the associated loss in state funding.
Over the past two years, Tyler County Schools has been faced with a decline in student headcount by 104. That coupled with the legislative changes in the state funding formula last winter put the board in a financial predicament of actually losing funding for over 200 students.
“A perfect storm of financial losses, both state and federal, for next year has created a loss of $650,000 for the local school system”, stated Superintendent Jeff Hoover. “Loss of enrollment means a loss of state funding. A loss of state funding requires a reduction of staff, or an increase in local investment to maintain positions. This can’t go on forever.”
As one of the very tough personnel decisions the board was forced to make at that March meeting, full time music was reduced to a half-time program at each elementary school. With the announced retirement of Sistersville Elementary’s music teacher, Fran Fluharty, no employee was not affected by this decision.
The Boreman music teacher was not as lucky. Being the least senior of the six music teachers county-wide, Matt Jennings found his position reduced to half-time and was subsequently placed upon the reduction and force list with preferred recall status.
Board members at his personnel hearing stated publicly their dismay at the reality of student and financial losses. All board members voiced support for the comment made by board member Jimmy Wyatt, “The board would ask the administration to re-examine the recommendation to eliminate this position if a salary source could be found.” It was.
Board President Linda L. Hoover stated at the May 18 Board of Education meeting, “Sometimes tough financial times force boards to make unpleasant decisions such as reductions in staff, but it is obvious that Mr. Jennings has made a positive impact upon his school since his hiring. He has proven to be a solid teacher and community member. It pleases the board to be able to reinstate him as a full-time music teacher at Boreman School for next year, as well as reinstating full time elementary music county-wide.”
The Sistersville Elementary music teacher that will replace Fluharty is tentatively scheduled to be hired at the June 15 Board meeting.