Thornton asking for $2.4 million hike

Published 7:12 pm Tuesday, February 19, 2019

By Frederic Lee and Diana McFarland

Staff writers

Isle of Wight County schools Superintendent Dr. Jim Thornton is seeking an additional $2.4 million in local funding for fiscal 2020, with the bulk of that attributed to teacher and staff pay increases, additional positions and more students.

That represents a 9.2 percent increase from last year — from $26.2 million to $28.7 million. 

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Thornton presented the proposed fiscal 2020 operating budget Feb. 14 to the Isle of Wight County School Board. {mprestriction ids=”1,2,3,4,5,6″}

Of the additional 30 full and part-time positions proposed, seven are for guidance counselors — required by Gov. Ralph Northam to assist with student mental health — at an estimated cost of $499,547 with state funding included. 

Thornton doesn’t disagree with the need for more guidance counselors, at a salary of about $71,364 a year each, but isn’t sure where they will come from.

“If we need seven, how many does the rest of Hampton Roads needs and the rest of Virginia?” he said.

Teacher raises are expected to cost $651,970 and support staff raises are $87,500. 

A portion of the teacher raises includes a state contribution. 

Other positions added in the budget include teachers, a finance coordinator at $95,966, two technicians, six building support positions, in-school suspension monitors and five process facilitators. 

Trained process facilitators would assist school principals and assistant principals in meeting the needs of special education students, said schools spokesperson Lynn Briggs. 

Additional special education staff, separate from the process facilitators, are estimated to cost $441,946. 

As for building support positions, the division had cut some office jobs in previous years and building administrators have since asked for a support person — a jack-of-all-trades-type to cover holes in staffing on a daily basis, said Briggs. 

Those are budgeted at $30,322 each. 

New teacher positions proposed for fiscal 2020 include an environmental science teacher at Windsor Elementary, an 8th grade teacher at Georgie D. Tyler Middle School, a career and technical training teacher at Smithfield High School and a math teacher at Windsor High School. An additional teacher is also requested for the recently developed Accelerate program, which is a class designed to inspire ninth graders to improve academically through building character skills and spurring academic interest using nonstandard teaching techniques. The program is set to expand to the tenth grade. Also requested is a global logistics teacher for a half year at $35,682.

Health insurance cost increases account for another $287,207.

Isle of Wight County can expect a $1.6 million increase in state contributions over the current fiscal year. That amount is based on the governor’s budget proposal and must be approved by the General Assembly. 

The governor’s office recently announced that it expects to invest about $268.7 million in Virginia schools, particularly for teacher raises and more guidance counselors. 

The total proposed operating budget, which includes local, state and federal funding, for fiscal 2020 is $66.9 million, an increase $4.1 million.  {/mprestriction}