Letter – Supervisors shirk schools
Published 4:57 pm Tuesday, August 8, 2023
Editor, The Smithfield Times:
Isle of Wight County Schools are barely keeping the lights on. Yes! The Board of Supervisors is improperly funding the school system, and several school board members are allowing it to happen.
School system funding comes from three general places: local funding, which makes up 40%-45%; state funding, which makes up 45%-55%; and federal funding, which makes up 3%-5%. With federal funds being a smaller percentage of total funding, we must primarily rely on state and local funds to make up the difference.
The school system relies on the Board of Supervisors to fund Isle of Wight County Schools to support Career and Technical Education, STEM and other programs to benefit our students. However, the Board of Supervisors has kept the county’s required local match artificially low, and funding is currently less than pre-COVID numbers.
Since the discontinuation of the ESSER (Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief) funds from the government, we require more support from the county leadership, which has failed the citizens of Isle of Wight County. The Board of Supervisors uses our taxpayer dollars, encumbered for school funding, to increase the county’s bond rating to raise capital using low-interest debt versus supporting our number one priority, Isle of Wight County Schools.
We cannot afford to have our funds continuously “set aside.” Last year, a similar district spent 66% over their required local match to our inadequate 29%. We are grateful to have Tracy Hendrix running for Board of Supervisors in District 2 to see that we are spending taxpayers’ money on our number one priority, our school system.
Our teachers and support staff will not have competitive salaries, and their benefits will be in jeopardy if this continues. It also means removing programs, positions and safety measures from our school system.
While the Board of Supervisors brags about cutting taxes, they also gave themselves another pay raise as our home assessments skyrocketed. I would like to know what this “fund account” is, why the Board of Supervisors is so obsessed with it, and why they withhold state/local funds while our schools are in desperate need.