IOW schools seek more funds

Published 10:41 am Wednesday, March 28, 2012


ISLE OF WIGHT—The Isle of Wight County School Board voted 4-1 to adopt a $57.2 million budget that represents an 18 percent increase in spending over last year.

The budget will be sent to the Board of Supervisors, which will be asked to provide an additional $5 million over last year toward the school budget for a total of $30.7 million.

Hardy District School Board Member Herbert DeGroft, who voted against the spending plan, asked to reduce it by $1.35 million.

During budget talks, Superintendent Katrise Perera had suggested cutting nine lead teacher spots, requiring staff to take five furlough days and establishing athletic fees for students who participate in sports.

Perera also reorganized the administrative office by converting six positions into five; each position would require more responsibilities. Pay would be increased for some of the positions. Everyone would have to reapply for the jobs.

Windsor District School Board member Julia Perkins said the full amount of the budget should be kept in for negotiation purposes. Carrsville District School Board member Robert Eley added that the board has had the proposal for nearly a month, and that the budget is needed.

Smithfield District School Board member Denise Tynes asked if personnel pay increases could be revisited before sending the budget to supervisors.

Newport District School Board member Kent Hildebrand said the county staff got a 5 percent pay increase in January, so why not the school personnel?

He added that the school system is looking at a flat budget, what with the loss of stimulus funding.

“It’s a budget of maintaining, not meeting needs. That’s sad,” said Hildebrand, citing the “stripping of technology for the past three years.”

“It tears me up personally,” an emotional Hilde-brand said.

“We have taken over $600,000 in technology in that time,” he said after the meeting. “It’s the first thing to hit, not students or teachers. But technology is not just buying computers, but also getting and setting up software and telephones.”

“That department has had no real advocate in the past,” added Hildebrand, who would like to serve in that position.

Tynes agreed.

“There’s no way we can cut technology,” she said, stressing its omnipresence in everyday life.

Eley appeared upset with reducing technology that would deprive students.

“It’s a shame to put students behind everything else in the county,” he said.

In another matter, the board voted unanimously to create a committee, which includes Perkins and Hildebrand, to study the potential relocation of students for the closing of Windsor Middle School as the new facility is being built.

The board discussed the possibility of sending seventh- and eighth-graders to Windsor High School and sixth-graders to Carrsville and Windsor elementary schools.

Perkins said she thinks that moving students twice is detrimental, and Stine supported the idea.

The committee will report to the board on April 19.