Letter – Urgent needs for schools

Published 7:13 pm Tuesday, March 19, 2024

Editor, The Smithfield Times:

I’m sure most people did not watch the four-plus hours of the Isle of Wight County Schools budget meetings. 

The main thing that struck me after committing the time to watch was that our community has been kicking the can down the road on the state of our school system for many years now. Indeed, some aspects of our school system have become so dilapidated that it is embarrassing. Building the new Hardy Elementary School was a good start, but the list of items that needs urgent attention is still very lengthy. Some key “highlights”:

  • The tracks are both Windsor High and Smithfield High are in such poor shape they cannot be used. Not only can our track teams not use them to complete, but regular PE classes are suffering as well. Just looking at the pictures in the superintendent’s presentation makes my shins hurt, and apparently the tracks are even worse than the pictures show.
  • The maintenance facility is too small to fit a school bus inside it. This forces the mechanics to work on the buses with the doors open regardless of the weather, which both makes their work take longer and reduces the effectiveness of the maintenance work as they can’t keep moisture and dust out.
  • The HVAC system at Carrollton Elementary School is essentially held together with duct tape and baling wire and needs to be completely replaced.
  • Nineteen of our school buses are over 15 years old and are at the end of their useful life.

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And this doesn’t even touch the need to replace Westside Elementary School, or the construction of additional schools to accommodate the growing population in IW County.

What does all this mean? Are our taxes going to go up? They may have to. I don’t relish the thought of higher taxes, but we taxpayers have most likely been benefiting from lower taxes as we underfunded the school system year after year. But when kicking the can down the road you eventually run out of road, and that’s where we are now.

Some members of our community will invariably demonize our superintendent for asking for the money to fix these many issues. I don’t see how he could in good conscience do anything else. It should be embarrassing to our whole community that we have let things deteriorate this far. It’s time to start fixing the schools.


Greg Brown