New school, keeping staff top priorities

Published 9:57 am Saturday, November 6, 2010

WINDSOR—Building a new Windsor Middle School and avoiding job cuts are what parents and staff members told the Isle of Wight County School Board Thursday should be budget priorities.

“The general consensus was that there was no reduction in services to the students,” said Carrsville District board member Kenneth Bunch. “And as far as Windsor Middle School, it is long overdue.”

Parent Tisha Porter was one of dozens of people to attend a community budget discussion at Windsor Elementary School. She has a son who attends the middle school and another at Windsor Elementary.

Porter said her younger son suffers from asthma, and she’s concerned about mold and other health issues in the 61-year-old middle school.

“I’m just looking at the long-term goal,” she said. “If the school still stands there, and he has to go there, he’s going to be sick with all the problems there.”

T. Hayes Griffin, who represents the Windsor District on the School Board, said building a new school would be a capital project requiring the issuance of bonds.

“We are working towards giving the county some figures on the cost of renovating the existing school versus bulldozing that one and building a brand new one,” he said.

Porter said the facilities at Smithfield and Windsor middle schools are dramatically different.

“They need to update very bad because I feel like they’re depriving the kids down here,” she said.

Keeping school division staffing at current levels was another concern several brought to the board.

“I don’t know anyone in our division that is not necessary,” said Shannon Hardison, the lead teacher at Carrsville Elementary School. “Every single person has a very important job.”

Among the cost-cutting measures brought to the board were having employees report to work one or two weeks later than usual from summer break.

Rachel Yates, the school division’s finance director, said the schools are bracing for reductions in funding from both the state and county and also anticipating increases in health insurance and Virginia Retirement System rates.

Another community budget meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 9, at Smithfield High School.

School Board Chairman David Goodrich said the board is holding the meetings to get community input on priorities “prior to the development of a proposed budget” for fiscal year 2012.