Schools budget now with supervisors

Published 5:43 pm Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Parents, students plead for facilities

By Diana McFarland

Managing editor

Parents, teachers and students urged the Isle of Wight County Board of Supervisors Thursday to support the school division’s fiscal 2020 operating budget, as well as consider renovating or replacing Hardy Elementary School. 

Parents were in favor of the new positions proposed, as well as teacher raises. 

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“We want to invest in quality things,” said Angela Gibson of Smithfield.

Hardy parents and students were pleased with their teachers and administrators at the school, but said the building itself is in need of major renovations or replacement. 

“We love Hardy Elementary … we do many awesome things at our school. We just wish it were more like the other schools that have a larger gym, a nicer cafeteria, more spaces and better bathrooms,” said Hardy fourth grader Olivia Austin. {mprestriction ids=”1,2,3,4,5,6″}

The Isle of Wight County School Board recently approved its $66 million fiscal 2020 operating budget, which calls for three new guidance counselors, three STEM teachers at Hardy, Carrollton and Westside elementary schools, as well as an environmental science teacher at Windsor Elementary, which generated praise from several parents.

The budget also calls for teacher raises at a cost of $640,923, support staff raises at $87,500 and special education position requests for $410,874.

The budget represents an overall increase of $3.5 million, with a local funding request of $28 million — an increase of $1.9 million or 7.5 percent — and a $1.4 million increase from the state. 

Cut from the initial operating budget proposal in February were six building support positions, at a cost of $181,932, which would help fill staffing gaps that occur during daily operations. The number of guidance counselors also dropped from seven to three as changes were made to that requirement at the state level. 

Smithfield representative Kirstin Cook said at the March School Board meeting that the Board may be willing to look at those positions again later in the year. 

“We’re not asking for luxury things that are way out in the unheard of,” said Hardy District representative Alvin Wilson. 

“We only asked for what our needs are …. we’re very, very conservative with our resources,” said Wilson. 

The budget now goes to the Isle of Wight Board of Supervisors for consideration. 

Being proposed separately from the operating budget is a $78 million long-range schools facilities plan, now part of the county’s capital improvement plan, with the first items being the renovation of Hardy Elementary School and a new bus garage. 

The Board of Supervisors recently toured both facilities and has expressed concern about the drainage, utilities and other issues facing the existing structure of the nearly 60-year-old Hardy Elementary. 

The long-range facilities plan also calls for a new northern elementary school and renovations at Westside Elementary.

Hardy and Westside are the two oldest school buildings in the county. A school has existed, in an ongoing evolution of additions and changes, on the Westside site since the 1920s. 

The other county elementary schools, as well as Windsor High School were built in the 1990s, Smithfield Middle School was built in 2005 and Georgie D. Tyler was built in 2014.

Smithfield High School is the third oldest school, having been built in 1980.  {/mprestriction}