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Cuts demanded: New IW school budget could mean 48 jobs would be lost

Published 10:15am Friday, May 3, 2013

BY STEPHEN H. COWLES/CONTRIBUTING WRITER
Playback58@gmail.com

SMITHFIELD—Eliminating 48 jobs and delaying the middle school iPad initiative in Isle of Wight County Schools are among the 18 items in the proposed revised school budget.

Presented Wednesday in the school board office, this was done in reaction to what Board of Supervisors Chairwoman JoAnn Hall last week told the school board: That it must come up with a new fiscal year 2013-14 budget, which was earlier proposed at $63.5 million. Funding from the county was figured at $32.6 million.

Hall, who represents the Hardy District, said a possible 22-cent tax hike to fund both the county’s budget and also its share for the schools is out of the question.

“Even a flat budget from last year is optimistic,” she added.

“It does not look pretty,” School Board Chairman Robert Eley said about the revision, “and it’s not where the school board wants to be, but where it has to be.”

Christina Berta, the schools’ executive director of budget and finance, reviewed the proposal, which includes the following:

  • Eliminate 48 full-time equivalent positions, specifically elementary and secondary teachers, instructional assistants, and restructure special education teaching positions and library aides. That could save $1.44 million.
  • Postpone textbook and E-learning resource upgrades as well as iPads in middle schools. That could save $859,305.
  • Reduce technology, such as delays in technology upgrades, hardware and software replacements and staff development. That could save $611,586.
  • Make staff adjustments in instructional administration. That could save $590,000. There’s no information yet on specific positions, said school spokesman Kenita Bowers in an e-mail to The Tidewater News. “Various classroom/instructional positions as well as Central Office and building level administration positions will be considered if necessary,” she added.
  • Reduce instructional materials by 25 percent. That could save $81,073.
  • Reduce bus maintenance. That could save $50,000.
  • Eliminate summer school for grades K-8. That could save $38,000.

Including those above, the total reductions are $4.35 million, which still leaves $842,975 more to get at the $5.2 million reduction required by the supervisors.

Later, the school board unanimously agreed to park its white fleet until June 30, and suspend any mileage reimbursement until money is found.

“I’m speechless regarding this,” School Superintendent Katrise Perera said. “They’re not just numbers on paper or line items. I can see the impact on students. This is very disturbing to me.”

She added that the county can not afford to go backward where technology and education are concerned.

“We cannot expect this to not have a real and drastic impact on classrooms,” said Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum/ Instruction & Administration Laura Abel. “There has to be a combination of teachers and technology.”

Kent Hildebrand of the school’s Newport District said the supervisors’ flat budget is approximately $21.6 million, and that there’s no new revenue coming in. He suggested, however, the school board look into a transportation fee, such as the kind he’s heard about used in the Midwest.

“Education will still continue in Isle of Wight. Students will be educated,” said Denise Tynes of the school’s Smithfield District.

“Our profit is the future,” said Julia Perkins of the school’s Windsor District, to which Perera said, “You can’t put a number on that.”

A public hearing on the school budget is scheduled for 7 p.m. Thursday, May 9, in the county courthouse. The supervisors could vote on that budget Thursday, May 16, when they meet at 5 p.m. in the courthouse.

  • ron0435

    I am just curious where all the money for this fiscal year has gone. The Board of Supervisors has twice given the school board money to make payroll. I think the School Board would have a better arguement and more support if they were more transparent and show the public how they spend money. If I know that my money is being spent wisely and the school board is still short then I would not mind giving them more. But it appears to me from some of my research that they are wasting money and not realizing that some of there projects require additional funding for infrastructure upgrades.

    Suggest Removal

  • edWB

    Look at the hefty increase in the public information department in the original proposed budget for 2013-14. Hopefully this is an area that can be scaled back.

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  • soccermom

    If you can take the time to post on this, then take the time to get involved and become part of the solution. Investing in our kids is an investment in everyones future.

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  • jackson

    I’m just curious as to how many of you commenting actually have a child in the IOW public school system? In addition to that “skooch”, have you ever spoken to anyone who is involved with the Parents4IOWCS group?

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  • toofunny

    This whole discussion is crazy. Go right to the IWCS website and look under administration. I would suggest for them to start cutting there. The central office does essentially nothing. Throwing more and more money at the schools does not make them better. Spending money more efficiently makes them better. It is disgraceful how the school administration and school board have used the children as what amounts to hostages in this sick game.

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    • BlindSquirrel

      Please explain how the children have been made hostages.

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      • toofunny

        Funding for their education is being held up by a school board and administration that would rather play politics than work in a realistic way to solve the budget problem. They basically threatened to shut the schools down rather than work with a flat budget.

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  • skooch

    I did notice that not one of these cuts have anything to do with cutting Administration positions. This school has a Director for everything one can imagine including hall monitors. If they are really concerned for the Students how about cutting some of the salaries or Administrators.

    The public hearing will consist of the group Parents for Education in IOW sending 20-30 members to say the same thing over and over. The problem is that these folks are mostly Military and will be gone in 3or4 years leaving the Rest of us with the bill. Funny how parents with kids in school want everything at any cost until their kids graduate then they are on the other side of the fence.

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    • BlindSquirrel

      $590,000 in cuts to Instructional Administration. These are all central office positions.

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    • IOWCitizen

      First off- are military members of our community any less important than “locals”?
      Second- you really don’t know much about the makeup of the members. The leaders of the group have no connection to the military and are “locals”.
      Third- the ENTIRE community benefits from a strong school system. Ask any realtor about that. Do families looking to move into a community ask about the number of local McDonald’s or proximity of a 7-11? Nope! They want their kids in a great schools. That increases the value of all of our homes.

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      • toofunny

        So IOWCitizen: you think we should implement a 22 cent increase in taxes to fully fund this outstanding school system that is clearly operating on a shoe string budget? As a taxpayer, I don’t think so. More money is not always the solution.

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      • IOWCitizen

        As a fellow taxpayer, it’s an investment in our future. Somebody invested in us as students and we should pay it forward. I would gladly pay the 22 cent increase.
        This current BOS should have raised the tax rate last year and not relied upon “funny math” to balance the budget. Unfortunately they ignorantly held to their “no tax increase” dogma and we’re staring down the barrel of a large tax increase today. The county’s own financial advisors are suggested a 10 cent increase just to intelligently balance the budget this year and maintain the county’s strong credit rating. That increase is only to maintain current service levels.
        I do wonder why county employees have a matching 401K retirement plan (how many private sector employees still enjoy that benefit???) and why taxpayers are being asked to pay for county employee health/dental increases. I don’t think school employees enjoy those incredible benefits!!!

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  • getreal

    Am I the only one that noticed the $145,000 increase in extracuriccular funding for next year .. supposedly due to a requirement to add more girls sports.
    Interesting how that led to girls field hockey teams when the superintendent arrived … with two high school daughters that play field hockey.
    Joann and the rest of the BOS .. stand firm and stop being being swayed by the “flash and dazzle” of this new school administration that has no real substance.

    Suggest Removal

    • BlindSquirrel

      IOW county schools “were” in violation of Title IX prior to the arrival of Supt. Perera. To comply one girl sport had to be added or one boy sport removed. The previous school board decided on adding one girl sport. Only one of the Supt. sdaughter plays field hockey, along with app. 35 daughters of others.

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      • getreal

        What previous school board.. Check the facts on when field hockey began ..after perera was hired .. And at the time ..both daughters played hockey ..and since budget was an issue then as it is now why not cut a boys sport that had low participation than ADD a girls sport at the cost of the tax payers to satisfy the “queens”whims?
        And by the way ..instructional administration does NOT necessarily mean central office .. It can mean cutting assistant principals and other admin duties related to instruction.
        Blind squirrel ..your name is perfect ..your are blind to the realities of the shenanigans going on is iw schools . Either that or you are party to them.

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  • Liberty With Responsibility

    If you care about your taxes, you better find time to speak to your county supervisor before they decide to stick it to the taxpayers again for these education extortionists. I’m sick of them driving our budget higher and higher even when there is a national financial crisis going on. HOLD THE LINE! Quit using the children as human shields to get more money. Be strong JoAnne!

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