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Budgets for West Virginia high school athletics and extracurricular programs, which were feeling the pinch caused by COVID-19, were given an early Christmas present Friday.

When the state announced it’s giving $4 million to public and private high schools to support their sports, band and choir programs, it came as a welcome surprise to Kanawha Valley high school administrators.

The money will come from the creation of the Extracurricular Equity Fund, announced Friday by State Superintendent of Schools W. Clayton Burch, in collaboration with Governor Jim Justice and State Board of Education President Miller Hall.

“It’s a very nice surprise,’’ said Jane Kennedy, the principal at Riverside, which is scheduled to get $63,900 as part of the fund. Schools are receiving $50 per student for use in their extracurricular activities.

“It was a very lean fall season,’’ Kennedy said, noting that Riverside played only two home football games due to the pandemic. “[Revenue] was down much more than usual. So we want to make sure our students get everything they need, and also to help them thrive in sports or show choir or band. It’s very helpful.’’

Riverside receives the most of any Kanawha County school, followed by Capital ($60,900), George Washington ($56,700), St. Albans ($52,650), South Charleston ($47,950), Herbert Hoover ($39,200), Nitro ($38,600), Sissonville ($30,300) and Charleston Catholic ($12,700).

P.E. McClanahan, principal at Hurricane, said the money comes at a welcome time for schools. His school is set to get $65,250, the most among Putnam County high schools.

“Football drives everything financially,’’ McClanahan said, “and even though most of our programs are pretty self sufficient, we were missing out a lot on football this year. We just had an athletic council meeting with our boosters and normally they give you thousands of dollars for winter and spring sports at this meeting, but we were really limited in what we could do. Our coaches understood and really didn’t ask for anything.

“So whatever money comes to us, we’ll plow that back in to support students and band and athletics. We want to help them out. That was on everybody’s minds. Family budgets are tight this time of year and school budgets are tight, too. We’ll talk to our coaches and directors and see what they need. It’ll help immensely. It’ll help across the board to help pay for sports like tennis and golf and swimming and girls basketball, all sports.’’

Among Putnam’s other high schools, Winfield is ticketed to get $40,750, Poca $24,300 and Buffalo $17,650.

Contact Rick Ryan at 304-348-5175 or Follow him on Twitter @RickRyanWV.

Preps Sports Reporter