IOW funding can be cut without hurting students

Published 7:57 am Friday, May 7, 2010

To the Editor:

If the Isle of Wight County administration identifies a potential $9.4 million in savings for the 2010-11 schools budget and the school board only makes $1.9 million in cuts, does that not leave $7.5 million of those potential reductions to be considered if the Isle of Wight Board of Supervisors cannot balance the budget?

My simple math calculation says yes.

Sure, I’ll kick out the $903,000, too, for not closing Windsor Middle before June 30, 2011. Simple math says this leaves $6.6 million in potential reductions for the 2010-11 school budget.

What does that leave us, $6.6 million?

Does any right-minded person really think there is no place in that Isle of Wight Schools $6.6 million budget to find non-essential, non-classroom dollars, that if taken out of the 2010-11 budget now, would negatively affect the classroom where our youth have the opportunity presented to them to learn?

Anyone who professes the Isle of Wight Schools 2010-11 budget is at the “bare bones” level and cannot afford anymore cost reduction is out of touch with reality, I submit.

It takes “fiscally responsible guts” to realistically review what is left in the potential areas of cost reduction and to do it now. To do so is to be in concert with one of the lawful duties of a school board member: “to ensure the schools are operated with the utmost efficiency.”

Efficiency, I think, means Isle of Wight Schools should operate with just the necessary money to provide the educational opportunity for our youth to learn — anytime, not just in the next budget year.

Real “bare bones” time is coming in 2011-12 unless Isle of Wight experiences an “immaculate economic recovery” in the intervening year. We sure pray so, but that does not mean we return to spending levels of yesteryear when we were spending right at $12,000 per student.

Currently, spending a bit over $11,000 per student is ridiculous. Knocking off another $600,000 to $1.2 million would reduce cost per student down to under $11,000, and we can do it without directly negatively affecting the classroom where learning takes place, if we have the “fiscally responsible guts” to do it.

Herb DeGroft

Isle of Wight County School Board member