EYEWITNESS LOCAL NEWSKANAWHA LIBRARY FUNDS
from Eyewitness News Online
Kanawha Library Board To Discuss Court Decision, Funding
Reported by: Katy Brown
Videographer: Troy Morgan
Web Producer: Bethany Simmons
Also Contributing: Kennie Bass
Reported: Feb. 22, 2013 4:13 PM EST
Updated: Feb. 23, 2013 8:35 PM EST
Charleston , Kanawha County , West Virginia
The Kanawha County Library Board of Directors will meet next week to discuss the West Virginia Supreme Court's decision about their funding.
The court ruled the Kanawha County school system is not responsible for funding the public library. The school was giving the library millions each year. It was a legal battle the school board had been fighting for nearly a decade. The library board of directors has scheduled a special meeting for Tuesday at 6 p.m.in the John Ray Room of the library.
The West Virginia Supreme Court dealt a big blow to the Kanawha County Library Friday.
The Kanawha County Board of Education has been fighting a legal battle for nearly a decade against being forced to give millions each year to the library.
The court originally ruled in the school system's favor in 2006, but stayed the decision to allow the Legislature to rewrite the code.
However, changes made by lawmakers still required the board to pay the money.
The school board filed another suit and won in Kanawha County Circuit Court.
The library appealed, and the justices released their decision upholding the lower court ruling Friday.
The decision means Kanawha County Schools will not be responsible for funding the Kanawha County Public Library.
The board first sued over this issue back in 2003, saying it wasn't fair that they had to pay the money.
The case had been tied up in the system for the last decade, but it came to an end Friday with a decision by the state's highest court
The majority opinion said giving money to the library is "unconstitutional and unenforceable."
Four out of five of the Supreme Court justices ruled in favor of the school board.
Charleston Mayor Danny Jones was asked his opinion of the ruling.
“There might be other agencies and political subdivisions that don't have to give money to the library and if that's case, that's problem,” Jones said . “We've always had a library in downtown Charleston, since I was a little boy, and I've always gone to it. I hope something happens to keep the library there.”
Some on the Kanawha County School Board said their top priority is the students.
“I’m very for libraries, we all are,” said board member Becky Jordan. “It's just that we didn’t feel like Kanawha County schools were being treated fairly with the amount we were paying.”
“This is an opportunity for the Legislature to stand up and do what they should have done 56 years ago," said board member Pete Thaw.
But those on the other side of the debate say this decision is a huge setback.
“Disappointed - that's the word we can use, said Alan Englebert, executive director of the Kanawha County Public Library. “It is going to effect education in ways that are yet unpredictable. We think the library is clearly a part of the education process.”
The ruling ultimately cuts about 40 percent of the public library's entire budget. It also could put a damper on plans to build a second library.
The school board says the plan now is to use the money for students, classrooms, and education as a whole.
“Justice has prevailed,” Thaw said.
The state Supreme Court dealt a financial blow Friday to the Kanawha County Public Library.
The Kanawha County Board of Education has been fighting a legal battle for years against being forced to give millions annually to the Kanawha County Library.
The court originally ruled in the school system's favor in 2006, but held off on implementing the decision to allow the Legislature to re-write the code.
However, changes made by lawmakers still required the Board of Education to pay the money.
The school board filed another suit and won in Kanawha County Circuit Court. The library and state school board appealed, and the justices released their decision upholding the lower court ruling Friday.
Get the full Supreme Court opinion here.
Eyewitness News is following this developing story. Keep checking wchstv.com.
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