CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- While the Kanawha County Board of Education approved a motion to continue funding the public library through the end of June, library officials did not leave Thursday's school board meeting with a stable solution to its funding problem past that date.
Instead, they have 90 days to try to come up with alternative revenue streams and "a more concrete solution" for the future.
"We were certainly hopeful that something would happen [tonight.] This creates an extremely tight timeframe to make any adjustments or even to do our own budget, which is something we need to do immediately also," said Kanawha County Public Library Director Alan Engelbert. "Forty percent is not a belt-tightening -- It's a great deal of money."
Also at Thursday's meeting, board members voted to not support redistricting plans for overcrowded South Hills area schools, pending further review.
Last month, the Supreme Court struck down a special act that required the school board to give about $3 million to the library each year, or about 40 percent of the library's entire budget. Library officials have since asked the school board to voluntarily direct a portion of their budget for library operations, even though the school board won its lawsuit to end the funding relationship.
While most of the school board agrees they don't want to "pull the plug" on the library after this fiscal year is up, the board's own financial troubles could overshadow the library's requests.
The board is facing a $2.1 million deficit for the 2014-15 fiscal year.
"We simply do not have the money to keep paying the library a quarter of a million each month. We just don't have it. It's that simple," school board President Pete Thaw said. "If anyone can find it, it'd be wonderful, but we can't."
Seven-year-old Vivian Schmidt, a student at Montrose Elementary, stood before the board Thursday to ask for support for the library.
"Have you ever heard that old saying that books can take you places? Well, it's true," she said. "All of the books are so inspiring to me, and the movies, of course. All of the people are so nice to us."
Board member Becky Jordon urged the board Thursday to vote to continue funding the library at the $3 million mark through June 2014.
"We wanted that lawsuit, but I just feel like we can't take our money and run. We've gone this long. They're a part of education, and they're a part of us. We need to give them time," Jordon said. "We can't be the school board that takes the libraries down."
Library officials have said major cutbacks and closures would be imminent if it loses 40 percent of its budget, including the closure of six branches. Sunday hours have already ended, and next year's West Virginia Book Festival was cancelled in an attempt to save money.
While board member Bill Raglin said he wants to help the library find a solution, continuing to give the full amount of funding isn't likely.