Letter – Wooster is vote for competence

Published 7:20 pm Tuesday, November 1, 2022

Editor, The Smithfield Times:

During the recent candidate forum for the District 2 seat on the Isle of Wight County School Board, Renee Dial and Mark Wooster answered over 35 questions. Notably, key topics were answered differently: masking of students/parental choice; following IWCS policy and VDOE mandates; adverse to policy treating superintendent differently than other employees; innocuous responses to citizens; representative government; sexually explicit materials accessible to even our youngest students; Hampton City Schools curriculum, etc.

Some fact-checking afterward found that some of Dial’s statements were significantly inaccurate. For example, when answering whether the superintendent should be able to spend more than $200,000 in an emergency without board approval, Dial said that $200,000 is not much in a $43 million budget. Actually, IWCS has a $78 million budget.

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When asked how to improve students’ academically from the pandemic, she said other school divisions are spending money on tutoring for after-school programs, that IWCS could do that. IWCS is already doing it using grant money, according to its April 21 minutes.

Dial said she was not on the board when the Hampton Schools curriculum was purchased and assumed the purchase was because they were successful in testing. But according to the board’s Sept. 9, 2021, minutes, Dial voted to approve the Consent Agenda, which included the HCPS curriculum payment on the check register. Note: Before the curriculum purchase, IWCS was ranked 34 slots higher in Virginia than Hampton because of IWCS students’ higher SOL test scores, according to the School Digger website.

We all know now how Dial compensates top-salaried employees over other employees. Just ask Dr. James Thornton about his $91,000 payout! Dial said herself, “We extended him the courtesy,” but with our taxpayer funds. This violated IWCS policy GCBD-R, which Wooster said “should be followed for all employees, regardless of position.”

You want a School Board member who follows policy, treats all employees equitably, listens and votes in accordance with constituents’ needs, knows what they have voted for, knows what the budget amount is and what is spent? Dial has proven she does not know her job responsibilities. Voting on Nov. 8 for Mark Wooster is a vote for competence on the IWCS board.

Sharon and George Hart