IWCS: Defunding Hardy central office renovation won’t solve deficit

Published 9:01 am Monday, August 28, 2023

Defunding Isle of Wight County Schools’ plans to save and repurpose two wings of the circa-1961 Hardy Elementary into a new central office isn’t an option for solving the school division’s $600,000-plus deficit, school administrators say.

Most of the old school is slated to be demolished later this year, save for its gymnasium wing and an adjacent wing. The division’s plans call for the remaining L-shaped building to house Isle of Wight’s central office, special education department and technology department under one roof – allowing the division to abandon the modular office that’s been located behind Westside Elementary since 2004.

Administrators estimated the cost of the renovation at $1.3 million in January.

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According to Superintendent Theo Cramer, the renovation is funded entirely with a state grant.

Deputy Superintendents Christopher Coleman and Susan Goetz told the School Board on Aug. 10 that the state grant money is restricted for school construction projects, so even if the board wanted to scrap the project in light of the deficit, and repurpose the funds to balance the budget, they couldn’t.

When Isle of Wight County Schools applies for a federal grant, it typically specifies in its grant application how it will use the money.

“If we want to change what we spend the money on, we have to do an amendment to change that,” Goetz said. “The state has to approve it.”

The old Hardy’s gym is to be repurposed as a climate-controlled warehouse for school records – saving Isle of Wight County Schools the money it would have otherwise had to spend on building a detached warehouse. Administrators, as of January, had received quotes for a detached warehouse ranging from $700,000 to $1.5 million.

Editor’s note: This story was updated on Sept. 12 to correct that Goetz’s statement regarding the need for state approval of grant changes pertains to state-administered federal grants, not state-level grants.