Letter – Merge county, IWCS finance

Published 7:59 pm Tuesday, March 26, 2024

Editor, The Smithfield Times:

There’s no better time than the present to bring a positive solution to an ongoing financial mess that the current Isle of Wight County Schools superintendent is beyond effectively handling. I highly commend IWCS board members Mark Wooster, Brandy Perkins and John Collick for their wise, profound comments at the March 14 School Board meeting.

However, I’m chagrined at board Chairman Jason Maresh’s and Michael Cunningham’s “closed minds.” Your article “IW School Board chairman opposes plan to share county CFO” (March 20) says Supervisor William McCarty and these IWCS board members are proposing to temporarily combine the currently separate finance departments. Congratulations! Why not, too, considering under Dr. Theo Cramer’s tenure as superintendent, two CFOs have left since November 2022’s School Board meeting and two coordinators of finance. Now there are two “substitute-interim CFOs” (part-time) in place.   

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I do not agree with Maresh and Dr. Cramer saying that sharing the county’s CFO would diminish the IWCS board’s independence and interfere with the effort to recover from fiscal 2023’s deficit of over $703,000 the auditors identified. How? County CFO Stephanie Wells has received awards for her financial expertise. Maresh and Cramer had no problem when CFO Wells identified IWCS’ unexpected revenue in December that was used to reduce its deficit to $345,000. She also identified during the audit IWCS grants of over $3.4 million not being requested for reimbursement on time. Why would they have a problem now? Wells has only done everything she can to help them. 

Wouldn’t it make more sense to merge the financial services to have CFO Wells in place to keep financial problems from reoccurring in IWCS, instead of waiting until they do and calling her to help fix them, again? 

Wooster, Perkins and Collick, stand your ground and bring this matter up for a vote during the regular April board meeting. Temporary combining of finance departments is in the long run a boon for us taxpayers, if and when it works out to mutual benefit, as I think it will. Y’all have the vision. Regrettably Maresh, Cunningham and Cramer do not. 

Are they afraid of this initiative succeeding? Why? IWCS is in dire need of “righting its financial ship” now, period.


Herb De Groft