Letter – School capacity is inadequate

Published 6:20 pm Tuesday, July 19, 2022

Editor, The Smithfield Times:

I would like to take issue with County Planner Amy Ring’s position on adequate school capacity. At the workshop discussion of the Crossings rezoning (52 units), she iterated that the county school enrollment (5,619 in September 2021) was less than division capacity (6,199). Especially, she said there was adequate capacity in Carrollton Elementary for the 20 projected Crossings students.

The problem is this space had already been allocated to the 899 students of the 2018 Cooperative Strategy’s analysis of 2,743 unbuilt houses of 14 familiar Isle of Wight developments, to say nothing of the increase to 260 students of the more lately approved Mallory Scott project. These more than 1,100 students will eventually cause the 6,199 capacity to be exceeded. But following Ms. Ring’s understanding, none of these 14 developments will cause over capacity because piecemeal they are less than capacity, though together they vastly exceed division capacity.

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Following IW consultant Tischler Bise, school and other infrastructure for these 14 developments typically would have in 2012 cost us $14,460 per unit. Phase II of the Crossings then will cost IW at least $750,000. Applying this $14,460 out-of-date figure to the now more than 3,000 unbuilt units over, say, the next 15 years, the cost will be $43 million in capital improvement shortfall.

The public needs to know that we either did not pursue or forgave too much of the Tischler cash proffers, e.g., Mallory Scott and Benns Grant, and now we are confronted with possibly $100 million in school construction cost over the next six years without any cash proffer reserve. And fellow citizens, it is our fault for not being more attentive to county matters. For instance, Mallory Scott’s 812 units, which should have been defeated on environmental issues alone, will cost us at least $11 million.


Thomas Finderson