Supervisor is right about benefits of shared services

Published 8:52 am Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Isle of Wight County Supervisor Stan Clark “stood tall in the saddle” when he did not cower to the county School Board chairman’s trying to keep “sharing services” out of the review on the 2010-11 budget discussions.

And it was a low blow by Chairman David Goodrich to suggest Mr. Clark was “anti-education.” The record will show that Clark made motion to approve carry-over of $400,000 in old funds from the prior year to this year for Isle of Wight County Schools. (The Board of Supervisors did not consider that the alleged $400,000 in savings from “custodial services outsourcing” has already been used by IWCS this year — no savings as portrayed as one of the reasons for action.)

Clark is correct and the School Board is wrong when it argues that “savings from eliminating dual administrative functions” impacts instructional issues. The MGT/A Efficiency study in 2006 found Isle of Wight Schools administrative costs per pupil were next to the highest among five other like-sized school divisions in the comparison. The reason for this is the higher number of highly compensated central office administrators in Isle of Wight compared to the other school divisions.

The Isle of Wight County Schools finance director’s salary and benefits come to $143,000 per year. The county human resources director’s was $85,000; Isle of Wight County Schools’ is $127,000, saving nearly $250,000 in government costs between these two positions — all the more reason to have one of each between the school administration and county government.

There’s fewer than 1,000 employees between the two entities, and the finance operation is not that complicated. In fact the former Isle of Wight County finance director (now at SPSA) matter-of-factly told me two years ago she could do both and would only need the payroll clerk from the school division.

Today we have a retired U.S. Coast Guard captain who was responsible for the consolidation of all Coast Guard finance centers in the United States into one. He could certainly manage little old Isle of Wight, I think. At least common sense says so.

The Board of Supervisors should act to give him the chance, and the School Board should, too, if we are responsible stewards of the tax dollars entrusted to us.

Churchill and Roosevelt recognized the need to have one commander of Allied Forces in World War II. We need to employ the same concept in Isle of Wight in consolidating/sharing administrative services.

If all Churchill and Roosevelt had done was talk, as the superintendent related he is with the county administrator, we’d still be fighting the war!

Talk is cheap. Action is what counts.

Add the elimination of salary and benefits of one public information officer job at $70,000-85,000; one Legal Service consolidated in the county attorney’s office, saving $40,000-75,000; one facilities director, saving $125,000; and one information technology director, saving $105,000.

What is the savings to Isle of Wight taxpayers? Between $550,000 and $600,000. And over a period of a year or two, maximizing efficiency of operations likely would result in several million dollars in reduced administrative costs.

And when you reduce administrative costs that have no impact on student instruction, theoretically you free up money to be applied to the classroom. Now that’s a no-brainer.

Again, thanks to Supervisor Clark for sticking to his guns.

Let’s get on with keeping contact with reality when it comes to saving taxpayer dollars.