IWCS draft budget seeks $18 million increase from county

Published 6:30 pm Wednesday, March 20, 2024

Isle of Wight County Schools Superintendent Theo Cramer’s 2024-25 budget proposal seeks a $5.6 million increase from county supervisors for annual operating costs, plus an additional $12.7 million in local funding to purchase new school buses and fund other costly one-time expenses, or $18 million more in total.

IWCS published the draft budget to its website,, on March 19, two days ahead of the School Board’s scheduled March 21 public hearing on the matter.

The supervisors gave IWCS a $30 million or 32% share of the county’s $95.5 million 2023-24 budget at the start of the current fiscal year. For 2024-25, Cramer is seeking $35.6 million, which would equate to a 37% share if the county’s budget stayed flat.

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The school division’s budget consists of six separate funds that, under Cramer’s proposal, would total $111.2 million. The largest of these is the general fund, which would increase 8.3% from the roughly $75 million currently approved to the proposed $81.6 million.

The additional $12.7 million in one-time local funding would go into the division’s capital maintenance fund.

Cramer’s budget would allocate $2.2 million for the purchase of 15 buses, down from the 20 he’d requested in February. Roughly a third of the divisions’ 65 buses have reached the 15-year lifespan and 300,000-mile limit Virginia Department of Education guidelines specify.

The largest single one-time expense, at $7.3 million, calls for replacing Carrollton Elementary’s heating, ventilation and air-conditioning system.

Another $2.1 million would fund athletic field upgrades, including the repaving of the currently unusable track at Smithfield High School.

Weapon and vape detectors at the division’s middle and high schools account for another roughly $231,000 in capital maintenance funds. Another $180,000 is earmarked for divisionwide bathroom repairs. A new computerized numerical control or CNC machine for career and technical education students is budgeted at just over $56,000, and a compensation study for staff, at $40,000. The capital maintenance fund would also allocate $500,000 for unplanned expenses.

Cramer, in February, called for a $5.6 million increase in operating expenses to fund at least 24 new positions and cover the division’s share of 3% annual salary increases for school employees required in Virginia’s proposed 2024-26 biennial budget.

According to division spokeswoman Lynn Briggs, IWCS can presently only use Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s December-proposed biennial budget for planning purposes, as Youngkin has yet to sign the House of Delegates or state Senate versions of the budget bill. Youngkin’s version, she said, did not include the 3% salary increase but rather a $1,000 bonus that would be funded by the state only for the minimum number of employees required of each division based on enrollment under Virginia’s standards of quality.

IWCS has just over 800 employees, 548 of which are deemed instructional. Of these, 417.33 receive state funding, albeit at a lower rate than what IWCS actually pays.

“Based on that, we have budgeted $252,666 from the state towards the salary increase,” Briggs said.

Under the Composite Index, a Virginia Department of Education formula for evaluating a division’s ability to pay, IWCS is currently rated at 0.37, meaning it’s expected to cover 37% of the cost of any pay increase or bonus, Briggs said.

IWCS has the fourth highest composite index among 14 Hampton Roads school divisions according to a comparison included in Cramer’s draft budget.