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. 

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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