Letters to The Editor 03-11-20
Published 6:25 pm Tuesday, March 10, 2020
Let audit be the record
Editor, Smithfield Times;
On Feb. 13, 2020, Jackie Carr the new Isle of Wight County School Board chair, read a prepared statement in response to Herb DeGroft’s presentation at the Jan. 15 Board meeting and his published four concerns in the Smithfield Times (Jan. 29) in regards to set policies being violated and not adhering to Dr. Thornton’s contract.
Carr can be seen and heard online saying the following, “Mr. DeGroft continues to question if Dr. Thornton violated policy DJA, on awarding two contracts, without School Board approval, that exceeded $100,000 dollars. These two contracts awarded to Honeywell International and Comfort Systems, covered Carrollton Elementary for the DDC Retrofit and the Carrsville gym HVAC and windows replacement. This violation was addressed at the December 2018 School Board meeting. On Dec. 13, 2018, Mrs. (Kirstin) Cook and I just completed a VSBA budget webinar at central office and we began to review the monthly finance report. We came across two large budget items that neither of us remembered approving. We did recall much discussion about the contracts, but not the actual board approval. We immediately went to finance, asked questions, got answers, made specific contact with necessary employees, and decided what was necessary to be done from our findings. While no laws had been broken, policy was not followed and we were going to take all measures necessary to make this right. Thus, that night, at the School Board meeting, this error was made public and the School Board voted to approve the contracts. This also became a personnel issue, and I can assure you, we handled this personnel issue appropriately. Finally, specific, detailed procedures have been put in place to ensure the School Board chair, nor the superintendent, will sign anything over the $100,000 limit without School Board approval first.”
Mrs. Carr, since you stated the Board chose not to hide what happened and values transparency, will the Board ensure that the PB Mares audit finds that Dr. Thornton violated DJA twice and that new procedures were established?
Money available for SROs
Editor, Smithfield Times;
The Isle of Wight County School Board is voting this Thursday on the fiscal 2021 budget. Folks need to come speak out. In 2014-15 school year, before Dr. Thornton, there were 5,580 students in the division with a budget of $57 million. Now there’s 5,630 students, a 50-plus increase, with the fiscal 2020 at $65.3 million. Too, there’s $715,000 the county’s paying for the CTE loan, though the School Board/superintendent said this would come from the school’s budget, bringing the total to almost $66 million, almost $9 million more to serve these 50 students, at $180,000 each. With almost $700,000 more the School Board/Superintendent’s asking us taxpayers for, all totaled 2020-21 IWCS Budget will be over $68,000,000. Add to that, tens of millions for new schools.
Sheriff Clarke stated five elementary SRO’s can be put in elementary schools for $392,000. Data I provided to IWCS Board on Feb. 27, there’s $250,000 IWCS receives from facility rentals, $100,000 Dual Enrollment that’s not been used and $42,000 from travel/training uses.
So there’s the total $392,000 to pay for the five elementary SRO’s, by contract, at our most vulnerable schools. And it does not add cost to IWCS budget nor taxpayer. IWCS already has contracted services: Chartwell for food services, and SCC/Service Solutions for maintenance, each for $1 million plus. They are company employees, as SRO’s would be. For years, IWCS has had an MOU with the Sheriff, contracting services paying for security/safety at different IWCS events. Now, five elementary SRO’s can easily be added. Franklin schools are funding SRO’s in the fiscal 2021 schools budget. IWCS can easily do the same. It only takes a Board member to motion, and one to second, and then vote to do so. Alvin, Denise, Vicky, Julia?
Clean roads, safe roads
Editor, Smithfield Times;
When you’re driving along Isle of Wight County roads, have you ever seen so much trash? Have you ever thought why this trash is there or how did arrive there? I think that there are two reasons. First, there are some irresponsible people who litter, and second, some neighbors do not secure or cover their truck beds properly. In addition to the trash on almost every road shoulder, it is more common closer to the refuse and recycling centers. Often times, trash is in the middle of the road threatening the security of residents and possibly causing an accident.
Litter is a problem and has an impact on the environment, waterways, property taxes, home values, tourism, businesses and the safety of communities. In order to address this problem, it is necessary to increase public outreach, educate and inform people about litter, create campaigns for cleanups and litter awareness. Other possible solutions include making trash receptacles and disposal sites more accessible. And finally, better enforcement of litter laws, such as higher fines and work for the community.
Most probably people who litter feel no sense of ownership or responsibility to the property. I believe that our roads, streets, parks and public spaces are my home too. I love to see clean areas where I can enjoy time with my family safely and also transmit this message to my children. For this reason, I would like to make a call to everyone to take care of our roads and secure our truck beds. I would also like to thank all the anonymous neighbors who pick up this trash from our roads.
Education is key to keeping our community clean and taking care of our environment. I feel very proud of my community when I see spaces that are well taken care of, and I love to see people taking care of their environment. Altogether it makes me feel that I am in an awesome neighborhood, county, state and nation.