Separate budget needs for schools

Published 1:50 pm Saturday, March 21, 2015

Like all school systems, the Isle of Wight County Public School division has essentially one mission: To provide the best quality education to its students. But the condition is that the division must do so within its financial means. That goal and its stipulation each seem reasonable.

But what happens when the purse strings are pulled a little too tight? That is, not only are revenue sources reduced, but also how said money can be used. How then can IWCS staff and teachers complete their duties if they’re unable to buy needed equipment or receive competitive pay?

The proposed $61.5 million school budget has been presented and discussed. On Monday, the school board is scheduled to make its vote. After which, the county’s Board of Supervisors will eventually receive the proposal for discussion and a decision.

This year, the capital improvement needs are included in the general operating budget. This compels Superintendent Dr. Katrise Perera and other administrators to decide what gets the priority.

As she recently put it before the board and public, “I shouldn’t have to choose between a classroom being appropriately staffed and making a roof repair. I should not. To have a bus or have two more teachers? Those are kids, and that’s my fiduciary responsibility and the board’s fiduciary responsibility.”

We agree with that philosophy, but are also open to learning more about why the two budgets have been merged. Perhaps it’s not too late to separate them? Perhaps that could help in making the tough choices a little easier.

Meanwhile, we would ask that both the Board of Supervisors and School Board work together in the coming weeks to ensure the school system can thoroughly educate the county’s students.