IW School Board adopts $102 million 2024-25 budget

Published 7:06 pm Monday, April 1, 2024

Isle of Wight County’s School Board voted unanimously on March 26 to adopt a $102 million budget for the coming 2024-25 school year that requests a roughly $9 million increase from county supervisors.

Just over $5 million of the requested increase is tied to annual operating costs, while the other $3.7 million is intended for costly one-time expenses.

The supervisors gave Isle of Wight County Schools a $30 million or 32% share of the county’s $95.5 million 2023-24 budget at the start of the current fiscal year. The coming year’s $39 million request would equate to a 40% share if the county’s budget stayed flat.

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“The school board recognizes that the supervisors have the difficult task of determining the amount of funding available and whatever the final outcome is after we present this to the county we’ll be grateful for what we got and we will make the best with the funding that we’ve been provided,” said School Board Chairman Jason Maresh.

The $102 million total is across six separate funds. 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.

Roughly $60.2 million of the general fund budget is tied to instructional services, the majority for employee salaries and benefits. It includes funding for more than 20 new employees, including an accountant in th central office, plus funding to provide the division’s roughly 800 existing employees 3% salary increases specified in Virginia’s proposed biennial 2024-26 budget and the annual raises specified in the division’s 35-step pay scale. 

The budget includes $1.4 million for the purchase of 10 school buses, down from the 20 IWCS Superintendent Theo Cramer had requested, half of which the board voted to include in its general fund as part of an annual replacement schedule. The other five are intended as one-time expenses in the division’s capital maintenance fund.

Roughly a third of the division’s 65 buses have reached the 15-year lifespan and mileage limit when it’s customary to begin looking at replacement. The one-time purchase of the extra five buses is intended to get the division back on track with its replacement schedule, according to division officials.

The single largest cut the School Board adopted to Cramer’s original budget was to remove $7.3 million allocated for the replacement of Carrollton Elementary’s heating, ventilation and air-conditioning system. 

School Board member John Collick said his goal in pulling the Carrollton HVAC expense from the capital maintenance budget is to present it to county supervisors for funding ahead of the July 1 start of the 2024-25 school year.

“There are teachers out there who have said if this isn’t fixed soon they’re gong to be looking for jobs elsewhere,” Collick said.

Still included in the capital maintenance budget is $1.9 million, down from $2.1 million originally proposed, to fund athletic field upgrades including the repaving of the currently unusable track at Smithfield High School. Replacement bleachers and handicap-accessible seating was removed for $145,000 in savings.

Weapon and vape detectors at the division’s middle and high schools account for another $231,000 in capital maintenance funds. The capital budget also includes $500,000 for unplanned capital needs.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to clarify when school buses are typically replaced.