Letter – Same story on IWCS

Published 5:47 pm Tuesday, January 16, 2024

Editor, The Smithfield Times:

The Smithfield Times’ Jan. 10 front page again repeats the IWCS financial deficits, basically duplicating the same headlines of previous recent issues. This deficit situation of the IWCS goes back as far as I can find to an article in the Daily Press on Sept. 27, 2009, 15 years ago.  

How often do you see articles in Newport News or Hampton newspapers continuously addressing school financial deficits? This crisis ends up in the Isle of Wight County Board of Supervisors, whose solution is to dump more funds into IWCS. Is there such a thing as accountability and firing for institutional mismanagement?  

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The Isle of Wight supervisors claim that a 1% sales tax increase to pay for the schools, if approved by a citizen referendum, will solve the problems. There is already a property tax based on an arbitrary “assessment process” to pay for the schools; will it be frozen if the 1% tax passes? And don’t be deceived; this tax increase will be mostly paid by the county residents and not the transient tourists and will not lessen the real estate property taxes.  

And will the 1% tax be dedicated 100% for the schools and have a sunset date once the school construction is completed? We all know that once a well-meaning dedicated tax is enacted, it never goes away; it is repurposed and disappears into the general fund. And the false illusion that renters who send children to school pay no local taxes gets repeated. 

What about those who never had children or opt for “homeschooling” who pay for the schools?  Perhaps it is time for “means testing” families that send children to the schools to more equitably pay for those services. 

This newspaper reports the influx of new developments as well as solar farms coming into the county; are they not paying local taxes? Do we really know what the real tax revenue for the county is and, more important, how it is spent?


Jose E. Hernandez