KEYSER - The Mineral County Board of Education this week approved a total $58.8 million budget for Fiscal Year 2020.

By Liz Beavers
Tribune Managing Editor
KEYSER - The Mineral County Board of Education this week approved a total $58.8 million budget for Fiscal Year 2020.
Calling the proposed budget “a challenge,” the 2020 budget represents an increase of $5,645,982 over the current $53.2 million.
Chief school business official Rhonda Martin presented the budget to the board members Tuesday in two forms - a multi-slide Powerpoint presentation and a more detailed, inches-thick loose leaf finder.
She explained that the county’s budget is made up of four components - the general fund, the special projects fund, the permanent improvement fund, and capital projects fund.
The general fund is $45.4 million in itself, which represents an increase of $1.6 million over the current year.
“Most of our expenses are tied up in salaries and benefits, so it’s hard to spread out the rest to where it’s needed,” she told the officials, showing in a pie graph on the Powerpoint that “salaries and fringes” take up 84 percent of the county’s general fund, leaving 16 percent for the rest.
One contributing factor is the amount of positions - both professional and service - which are over the limit allowed by the state funding formula.
Explaining that the number of positions funded by the state is based upon the student enrollment each October, Martin explained that enrollment has been steadily decreasing since 2014-2015, when the county had 4,192 students enrolled, until the current year, with an enrollment of 4,104.
The state therefore allows funding for 12 professional positions and approximately 24 1/2 service personnel.
Mineral County currently has 12 professional positions over that limit, and 24 1/2 service personnel.
Funds to pay those employees must come from the county.
Martin said with the closure of Verso’s Luke Mill in June, it is unknown how the enrollment and subsequently, the state funding, might be affected.
Over the past year, it has been the board members’ contention that costs such as school field trips. lunch program waste and other things be cut before staffing is cut.
Superintendent Shawn Dilly said he felt the proposed budget “is tight, but it can be successful if people are living within their means.”
Board member Rob Woy made a motion to accept the budget, and Tom Denne seconded it. The budget was passed 5-0.