Many voice concerns over IOW budget

Published 9:43 am Wednesday, March 23, 2011


SMITHFIELD—Nearly one-quarter of the 100 or so attending a Monday public hearing voiced concerns about a proposed Isle of Wight County Schools budget that would eliminate 60 jobs.

The school district expects $1 million less for its 2011-2012 budget due to a continued weak economy and reduced funding.

Dominating the brief speeches during the hearing at Smithfield High School were keeping money for reading specialists, instructional personnel, Smithfield High School Marching Band and the Governor’s Schools for Arts and Science and Technology.

Smithfield High School reading specialist Victoria Ward and science teacher Sharon DuBois urged the school board not to cut to the Reading Intervention Program.

“It is imperative that we fund the progress of our schools,” DuBois said.

Mary Heath, an office assistant at Smithfield High for the seven years, urged keeping funding for office staff. She repeated a phrase she’s taught her 5-year-old at Carrollton Elementary, and that the board should take to heart — “Be kind and do right.”

Kirsten Cook, president of the Hardy Elementary PTA, asked not to take away instructional personnel, citing library clerks and reading intervention specialists as examples.

“They’re the backbone,” Cook said.

Parent Neal Johnson bragged about Smithfield High School’s Marching Packers.

“This band is awesome,” and Aaron Hill, the director, also praiseworthy, Johnson said. “Many people don’t know how expensive band is,” he added.

Further, Johnson asked for money to be devoted to the renovation of the industrial arts building where the football players prep for home games. Lack of showers, rusty lockers and poor lighting are some of its shortcomings. Johnson also stated that a new field sports container that holds equipment was required as the old one has mold, “a significant safety hazard.”

Smithfield High student Lee Starnes told the School Board how being in the band has “greatly influenced not just me, but others in the room.”

Hill noted that students “deserve our very best,” and also urged finding money for new instruments and uniforms.

Wayne Stambaugh, who’s on the Gifted Advisory Committee, urged the board to “please fund the Governor’s School for Arts and Science and Technology, as well as other gifted programs.”

Logan, his son, who plays jazz guitar, said he couldn’t imagine what he’d be like without the school.

Rising senior and cheerleader Rebecca Doyle said she is an example of how the governor’s school has helped her “develop my skills for engineering.”

David Goodrich, board chairman, prefaced the speakers’ remarks by saying that work on the budget started back in autumn.

“This was started earlier than in the past because we knew it was going to be a difficult year,” Goodrich said. “The board adopted priorities base on hearings.”

He reminded people that a work session will take place at 7 p.m. today, March 23, at Windsor Elementary School. The adoption is scheduled fora special meeting at 7 p.m. Monday, March 28, in the second-floor boardroom of the courthouse.

The proposal will be formally presented to the Board of Supervisors on Thursday, April 7, to determine “what is and is not funded.”