JAN. 2023 - A 25 year effort by Calhoun Schools, first started by retired superintendent Ron Blankenship and continuing with current superintendent Kelli Whytsell, is back on the board for the WV Legislature. State senators are once again considering a bill to help some small, financially struggling county school systems by setting a base enrollment figure for their school aid formula dollars.

The school funding formula is based on school enrollment numbers, adversely affecting Calhoun, Wirt and Gilmer County, all with enrollments of less than 1000.

The current bill would set a base of 1200 enrollment, allowing those counties higher levels of assistance.


SCHOOL FUNDING FORMULA AMENDMENT GOES DOWN AGAIN - Low Population School Systems Like Calhoun Face Challenges (04/10/2021)

By Bob Weaver

Calhoun Superintendent of Schools Kelli Whytsell says the WV Legislature bill SB 711 died in the House Finance committee, a bill that would provide additional funding for a number of low enrollment county systems.

A 20+ year effort to amend the state's school funding formula continues to fail, an effort that would help Calhoun Schools in a county that has declined school enrollment and does not have a levy.

The amended formula would fund all county systems as if they had 1,200 students.

Despite low enrollment, county systems have fixed or mandatory costs.

"The Calhoun central office has worked hard with our legislative members to get Senate Bill 711 developed and passed. The bill has been critical to Calhoun County," said Whytsell.

Calhoun County has received two ESSER grants, one for $367,332.70 and one for $206,431.85. The $367,332.70 grant has been used for employment of three custodians, one at each school.

"These custodians have helped with all of the sanitation needed with this year. The funds have also been used for cleaning supplies, professional development, and related COVID expenses," Whytsell said.

The $206,431.85 is a technology grant that be used to purchase technology for students and staff.

Many of the current legislative bills seem directed to de-constructing the public school system, using public money to fund private charter schools, including a funding check for home schoolers.

In 2020, here were 9,300 fewer students in West Virginia this school year than last and the decrease could cost the public education system nearly $43 million in state funding.

Calhoun, now with a low student population of 862 (2020), a near record loss of 101 students. Calhoun has continued to struggle to provide basic services with School Funding Formula allocations, with local school superintendents for years pleading with the state to create a bottom-line cash number to keep them going.

Calhoun had 1,700 students enrolled 30 years ago WV schools are struggling to provide teachers.

Board member Tom Campbell, a former delegate and former chairman of the House Education Committee, said losing $42 million would mean a cut in 500 teaching positions and 300 school service personnel.

Calhoun School Enrollment: Loss/Gain: 1991-1992 1700 +15 1992-1993 1689 -11 1993-1994 1705 +16 1994-1995 1671 -34 1995-1996 1633 -38 1996-1997 1589 -44 1997-1998 1558 -31 1998-1999 1476 -82 1999-2000 1430 -46 2000-2001 1318 -112 2001-2002 1289 -29 2002-2003 1283 -6 2003-2004 1216 -67 2004-2005 1187 -29 2005-2006 1180 -7 2006-2007 1153 -27 2007-2008 1151 -2 2008-2009 1126 -25 2009-2010 1104 -22 2010-2011 1122 +18 2011-2012 1137 +15 2012-2013 1083 -54 2013-2014 1069 -14 2014-2015 1066 -3 2015-2016 1055 -11 2016-2017 1051 -4 2017-2018 1028 -23 2018-2019 977 -51 2019-2020 963 -13 2020-2021 862 -101

CALHOUN'S STUDENT ENROLLMENT DROPS 217 SINCE '99 - Declining Numbers Means Funding Cuts(10/22/2003)


By Bob Weaver

Education is facing some major challenges in most West Virginia counties over dropping enrollment.

The state's child-bearing population is declining, mostly because of a lack of viable jobs in the state. Young couples are moving to other areas to pursue a career or seek employment.

Calhoun schools have lost 67 students this year, down to 1,216, according to Jean Simers, Coordinator of Services/Executive Secretary.

Loss of students means loss of funding. Loss of funding means loss of professional people to deliver mandated programs and service.

The Calhoun County Board of Education will be facing the elimination of more teachers and service personnel next spring.

Hit particularly hard are rural counties, where the funding formula is taking a major toll in providing mandated services under No Child Left Behind.

Schools are being held accountable for not maintaining standards, a catch-22 that proclaims an excellent education for all children, while not providing the funds to deliver it - particularly in rural areas.

Many school officials and educators are wondering about a breaking point. How can rural systems deliver the requirements with fewer and fewer personnel?

Calhoun Superintendent of Schools Ron Blankenship has spent several years trying to convince state education officials and legislators that the formula must be changed, particularly for rural schools.

About three years ago a staggering 113 students left the Calhoun system in one year.

A five year trend shows more students are leaving West Virginia's public schools than are enrolling, according to figures submitted to the state this week.

It is unclear about the funding loss to Calhoun next year, but it could be over $400,000.

When the new Calhoun Middle/High School opened in 1998-99 the enrollment was 945 students. The current enrollment at CM/HS is 728 - a decrease of 217 students.

Simers said in 2004 Calhoun Middle/High School is expected to graduate 104 students, with only 79 new students entering the school's fifth grade. Elementary class enrollment, grades one through four, has dropped to an average of 75 students.