By Bob Weaver

Calhoun taxpayers will be asked to vote for a small two-year school levy this fall, announced last week by a group of supporters.

"This levy is directed toward students, families and community, making our schools the hub of our community again," said Richard Westfall, chairperson of the Friends of Calhoun County Schools.

Westfall said because of scarce finances in recent years, "Our schools have become more detached and unable to do many things that improve the education of students, help their parents and connect with the community. This levy will change that," said Westfall.

Left to Right: Richard Westfall, chairperson; Richard
Kirby, board member; Kelli Whytsell, superintendent

From funding student organizations and activities, opening gyms and facilities, paying transportation for students to expanding special events.

A significant feature of the levy, if passed, is removing Grade 5 from Calhoun-Middle High School and returning those students to the county's two elementary schools.

Levy funds would support one additional 5th grade teacher to allow the change to happen.

The levy allows for free access to the community for sports games.

Westfall said taxpayers could recoup their tax costs by attending games alone.

Calhoun school board member Richard Kirby said, "This levy will give all students an even chance, and return to the original goals of the school system being community based."

Kirby said schools have become more isolated from the community because of finances.

"This is only a two year levy," said Kirby, who said it can be evaluated for meeting its mission.

Superintendent Kelli Whytsell said the small levy cost of $312,000 will be able to implement and expand the Community Schools Concept and offer more opportunities for the use of our facilities.

Whtysell said the levy will equalize opportunities that are offered to students.

The proposed levy is not connected to deficit problems experienced by Calhoun Schools.


Calhoun County Students, Families and Community will greatly benefit from supporting the levy on November 6th. We will be able to implement and expand the Community Schools Concept that AES and other schools offer with more opportunities for the community to use our facilities.

One example that will benefit the community is the use of the gyms and exercise room for fitness activities. The county has a limited amount of exercise facilities that the students, families and community members can use. With the passage of the levy, we would be able to expand and open our facilities to the community.

We are working very hard to meet the needs of our students, families, and community, but we need the students, families, and community to partner with us. The board, administration, teachers, students, and parents have identified improvements that we are not able to fund under the current funding formula. The three areas of improvement will be Students, Family/Community, and Facilities.

I have always felt the fifth-grade students belonged at the elementary schools and to do this we need the funding for an additional teacher. We have wonderful fifth-grade teachers that do a great job with our students; however, they are not developmentally ready for the middle school concept.

We currently have three fifth grade teachers, but to move the fifth-grade students back to the elementary schools we would need four fifth-grade teachers. Supporting the levy would allow us to move the fifth-grade students back to the elementary schools.

Our children thrive when they are supported and valued. We have very talented athletes that very much deserve and appreciate our support. By offering an all-sports pass to allow the community into the home regular season games free of charge. We not only will get more community members attending the activities, and they will realize that just a few games will pay for the levy.

The levy will allow for students to have experiences outside the classrooms, build background knowledge, explore and expand upon their interest, as well as increase their access to participation in extra-curricula activities. These are opportunities that we cannot provide without additional funds.

• Grade Level Field Trips: Each grade would go on a grade level field trip paid for out of the levy money. This trip would stay the same each year for each grade level; this would allow us to build a sense of community within each grade. Both schools would go together on this field trip on the same day. We will be able to provide students with wonderful field trips that highlight what is special about WV, such as Seneca Rocks, Clay Center, and Oglebay lights.

• One additional teacher: To fund returning 5th grade to the elementary schools.

• Technology: Ensure that the technology that our students are using is up to date and able to provide the students the internet and technology needs. We would also like to have Internet Café available for the community to use in the evenings or during activities at the school.

• Funding for Student organizations/Academic Awards/Fairs/Dues: This would provide funds for student organizations like student council, NHS, CTE Honor Society, Art Honor Society, Spanish Honor Society, Skills USA, etc. diplomas.

• Classroom Supply Money: Provide each school with additional funds to be used directly for increased supply money for student projects.

• Exercise Equipment: Replace the current sports exercise equipment that is broken with new exercise equipment that will not only be used in PE classes but also with sports programs and the public.

• After School Band, Sports, and Student Activity buses: This would fund one bus driver for 36 weeks 4 nights per week. This would supplement the current after school grant. Research shows that parental and family involvement is one of the single most important factors in student success and satisfaction with school. Thus we are looking for many opportunities family and community involvement in our schools.

• All Sports Pass: Residents of Calhoun County would be given an all-sports pass to be used at all regular home sports events. We would provide the courthouse with small business cards to be given to residents as they pay their taxes. Thank you for supporting Calhoun County Students, this pass will allow you to attend all home athletic events in Calhoun County.

• Community Dinners: We recognize the importance of families and building positive relationships between home and school. Our students enjoy having their families join them in the school enviornment. One way that we will enhance these partnerships is by providing dinner for Community and not charge parents for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter dinners.

• Block Party: We would host two block parties each year, one in August and one in the Fall. The focus would be on providing students the necessary school materials and in winter include hats, gloves, and car packs for winter.

• Open Gyms: CMHS would have a series of open gyms for community use during the winter months.

• World Changers: We would expand the backpack food items going home each week to include some personal hygiene products and have a selection of items at each school for student need to include basic clothing.

• Fall and Spring cleanup and decorating the schools for the start of the school year and also in the spring for our spring events. • Computers and Internet access available for community use. We would be able to have computers and internet available for the community to use in the evenings, at sporting events, and other times when the community is at the school.

• Maintenance and Repair of Facilities and Parking Lots: These funds will be used for preventative maintenance and repair of facilities, sidewalks, and parking lots.

• School Specific Improvements: Each school and board office will receive funds to improve their facility such as playground improvements, cafeteria improvements, beautification of the facility, athletic improvements, walking tracks, auditorium, gym lighting, ball fields, and classroom desks to name a few improvements.

• Additional Custodial/Maintenance services in cleaning and maintaining the facilities.

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