Cabell school board moves forward with plan to slash funding for libraries, parks 

By: - August 1, 2023 9:29 pm

A variety of books and resources are available at the Cabell County Public Library Main Branch in Huntington, West Virginia, on Thursday, July 27, 2023. In addition to the Main Branch, the Cabell County Library system has seven branches serving the communities of Barboursville, Cox Landing, Gallaher Village, Guyandotte, Milton, Salt Rock, and West Huntington. (Lexi Browning | West Virginia Watch)

Facing a multi-million dollar funding shortage, the Cabell County School Board voted unanimously Tuesday to go forward with a proposed levy plan that would drastically reduce funding to its local libraries and parks. 

A packed house listened as school leaders described how they had got into the budget shortfall, which was largely due to a declining student population — the county has lost around 1,400 students in the last six years — and the loss of $11 million in federal COVID-19 relief money that was helping pay for staff. 

An auditorium with people sitting in 2/3 of the seats.
The Cabell County Board of Education meeting on Tuesday had to be moved to the auditorium because so many people showed up to support the parks and libraries. (Anna Chenoweth | Courtesy photo)

The meeting location had to be moved to the auditorium because of how many people showed up to support Cabell County’s libraries and parks. More than 40 people signed up to speak about the proposed levy plan, causing the meeting to last almost five hours.

Cabell County Schools leadership predicted a $4.5 million budget shortfall for the upcoming school year. Superintendent Ryan Saxe said the board of education will need to cut 150 school system jobs in the next year to decrease spending.

The decision Tuesday could bring legal action against the school board. The proposed decrease in funding would violate a state requirement for the Board of Education to fund those entities in Cabell County, according to leaders with the library system and parks.

Residents will have a chance to vote on the levy next May. It would go into effect in 2025.

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Amelia Ferrell Knisely
Amelia Ferrell Knisely

Amelia is an investigative reporter for West Virginia Watch. Her coverage regularly focuses on poverty, child welfare, social services and government.