Letter – IW can’t afford new Westside

Published 5:21 pm Tuesday, March 7, 2023

Editor, The Smithfield Times,

Partisans of a proposed new Westside Elementary School need to postpone their desire for a new school for 20 years in favor of Isle of Wight County’s senior citizens. 

A new Westside and Hardy Elementary together at $100 million would cost the average IW household more than $6,000 in principal and interest. With 46% of its retirees having less than $15,000 in cash savings and half still paying on their house mortgage, they are in no position to take on such huge new debt.

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Also, Medicare, Part A, reserves may exhaust themselves in five years, threatening health coverage. Social Security reserves could fail in 12 years, reducing monthly benefits possibly 30%. Equally insidious, basic household income is already seriously decreasing, partly shifting to cover astronomical, increasing medical costs.

These looming factors behoove the supervisors to insist partisans make do with a present Westside, which is very functional and basically in good condition. Sewer and other repairs can be made at a fraction of the cost of a new school.

Remember that IW senior citizens, living longer and longer, have been projected by Weldon Cooper to be 26% of the county’s 2030 population, or one-third of its adult population. A $100 million school building program would have disastrous implications for the county and the majority of IW seniors who are facing very serious financial challenges from several directions and gradual but very real poverty over the next 20 years.


Thomas Finderson