IW school board OKs new cafeteria furniture, desks

Published 8:57 am Wednesday, May 3, 2017

The Isle of Wight County School Board voted unanimously on Tuesday, April 25, to approve a roughly $190,000 purchase of new furniture for the cafeterias at both Windsor and Smithfield high schools. The board also voted unanimously to buy new collaborative-style desks for a total of 10 high school classrooms. The voting took place during a special called school board meeting on Tuesday morning in the IWCS board office in Smithfield.

Funding for both purchases will come from the current fiscal year’s budget, as will the cost of the division’s participation in the ARC program, a reading skills program which will be used for all special education students in grades K-12 and at-risk middle school students.

Windsor High School’s existing cafeteria furniture will be relocated to Westside Elementary School. The desks are expected to cost approximately $10,600 per classroom for a total approximate cost of $110,000, and the ARC program participation carries a price tag of around $132,000.

Five classrooms to receive the new desks will be at Windsor High School with the other five at Smithfield. The cost of the ARC program includes all reading materials and training for teachers.

The board also approved $313,000 in renovations to Carrollton Elementary School’s attic sprinkler system, which will replace the school’s corroded galvanized piping with black iron pipes, a nitrogen gas system to prevent corrosion, and a back-flow prevention system mandated by current building codes.

The board members were also briefed on two expenses under $100,000, which they were not required to approve, and the money will also come from the current fiscal year’s budget. Those expenses were a universal screener program called Star Reading and renovations to the division’s school bus bays.

The Star Reading screener program will cost the division approximately $69,000 and will test all students in grades K-8 to determine where they stand in math and reading, and identify students that need tier one, two and three services.

“In the past we have used PALS (Phonological Awareness Literacy Screening) for our lower grade level but we feel this will give us a little more data,” Assistant Superintendent Heather Tuck said. “PALS doesn’t aways screen all children beyond second grade and is very time consuming. This is a 45-minute assessment and it is all computer-based.”

Carrsville school board representative Jackie Carr said that in order for the division to receive government funding, they were required to continue using PALS, so discontinuing it was not an option. She also questioned whether the addition of Star Reading would be too much testing for K-3 students since PALS and ARC would also be used. Tuck responded that the division did not need to use PALS for all students in order to receive funding.

The renovations to the division’s school bus bays will cost approximately $12,000 and are necessary to increase the height of the bays to accommodate the division’s newer propane-powered buses.

The next item on the agenda was a memorandum of understanding with the City of Suffolk regarding the Pruden Center. According to Lynn Briggs, the division’s director of gifted services, community and media relations, IWCS is a partial owner of the Pruden Center, and the division is entitled to a payout as a result of pulling out of the center beginning next school year and offering in-house career and technical education courses instead.

The amount of money IWCS will receive from Pruden will be determined by an appraiser who has been selected by lawyers representing IWCS and the City of Suffolk. Once the appraiser reaches a decision on the amount IWCS will receive, the decision will be final and cannot be appealed. IWCS will receive its share in the form of a lump sum once per year over a period of seven years.

Superintendent Dr. Jim Thornton said he would like to use those funds to further the division’s new in-house CTE programs, but added that the funds would be available for other uses such as the division’s capital maintenance fund should any unanticipated equipment malfunctions occur at any of the division’s schools.

The board approved the memorandum of understanding in a 4-1 vote, with Carr voting against approval.

The final agenda item the board discussed that day was a formal agreement with the Smithfield Foods Foundation concerning the $3 million grant they received in February. According to Briggs, the agreement spells out in writing that the funds will be used to fund the division’s CTE programs. The board approved the agreement unanimously, pending changes to the final wording of section three of the agreement, on which the division is still working.

The next school board meeting will be on Thursday, May 11, at 6 p.m., in Georgie D. Tyler Middle School.