Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

Boone School Workers' Pay May Be Delayed

Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

Boone School Workers' Pay May Be Delayed

Article excerpt

A bill that would give Boone County Schools an extra roughly $2.2 million doesn't look like it's headed anywhere soon, and Boone school officials say employees' final paychecks this month could be delayed if the legislation doesn't pass. But the West Virginia branch of the American Federation of Teachers union posted on its Facebook page Thursday night an attorney's letter to Boone schools Superintendent John Hudson and Boone school board members, accusing the board of threatening to "unlawfully withhold wages owed to teachers and service personnel.

"As you are well aware, public school teachers and service personnel hold contractual, statutory and regulatory rights requiring their salaries and benefits be paid in full and in a timely fashion, wrote Jeffrey G. Blaydes, of the Charleston-based firm Carbone & Blaydes. He said the union had directed him "to explore all legal rights and remedies available to their members.

Charles Chapman, the school system's treasurer/financial services director, said the checks workers should receive June 24 may have to be delayed without the supplemental appropriation, which Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin added Wednesday to the special legislative session call to allow lawmakers to consider the issue.

"We're holding off all we can in accounts payable, Chapman said.

The extra money would help Boone get through the June 30 end of this fiscal year. Chapman said that if the bill doesn't pass and checks are delayed, Boone will try to pay workers as soon as possible in July.

Hudson sent a letter Thursday to employees listing steps the school system has taken to address its budget problems.

Among them was an attempt to get a short-term loan from a local bank, but the letter said West Virginia's attorney general issued an opinion saying "that a public entity such as a school system could not receive a loan of this nature and repay said loan in the next fiscal year.

Hudson wrote that if the steps Boone has taken - including requesting the supplemental appropriation - are unsuccessful in helping the school system meet payroll, the late June paychecks will be given around the beginning of July when the new fiscal year starts.

On Thursday, lawmakers questioned why Boone schools are in line to get a special appropriation but not schools in other counties that face financial struggles. Sen. Ron Stollings, D-Boone and a supporter of the bill, said some senators want funding for schools in the counties they represent added to the legislation.

"It's running into some trouble because of the Christmas-tree effect, Stollings said, referring to a bill that attracts many riders.

"If the rest of the state thinks they're going to jump on this, and Boone County is drowning, there's something wrong with the entire state, said Carrena Rouse, head of the Boone arm of the American Federation of Teachers union. …

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