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No comments made at IWCS budget hearing

WINDSOR

No one spoke at a public hearing on Feb. 22 concerning Isle of Wight County Schools’ proposed budget for the 2018-2019 school year. The hearing was held at 5:30 p.m. in the cafeteria of Windsor Elementary School.

According to Superintendent Dr. Jim Thornton’s budget presentation to the Isle of Wight County School Board during the board’s regular scheduled February meeting, the division is currently planning for an FY 2018-2019 operating budget of just over $62.6 million, up 4.6 percent from its 2017-2018 budget. Of that total, approximately $56.2 million is the division’s general fund, which includes money allocated for instructional services, administration, attendance and health, pupil transportation, operations and maintenance, technology and debt service.

The division’s priority general fund expenditures proposed for FY 2018-2019 include:

  • an additional $601,755 to provide raises for teachers;
  • an additional $274,720 to hire four new teachers;
  • $222,264 to purchase new career and technical education instructional materials;
  • $337,444 to provide instructional assistants a 10-percent raise and new entry level salary of $12.55 per hour;
  • roughly $100,000 in additional funding for school field trips to implement the division’s recently-adopted policy of no longer requiring students to pay a participation fee;
  • an additional $29,464 toward school nurse salaries to give each a 5-percent raise;
  • an additional $226,789 toward school bus driver salaries to give each a 13.92-percent raise and to implement a new starting pay rate of $13.50 per hour;
  • and an additional $14,704 in debt service.

Balancing out the roughly $1.8 million in new expenditures is an equal increase in anticipated general fund revenues, the bulk of which will come from additional state funding in the amount of $1,704,627 based on the division’s new student population totals. Federal funding for the division, on the other hand, is projected to decrease by $53,375 or roughly 1.4 percent. Lynn Briggs, the division’s director of community and media relations, explained that this was due to the division anticipating less reimbursable Medicaid expenses and less reimbursements from the federal E-Rate program for internet and phone services in schools.

Also included in the division’s planned expenditures is funding for Carrsville Elementary School’s new integrated arts curriculum, which will result in all students in grades K-5 at the school receiving 25 minutes per day of violin instruction. The cost of the violins and their cases, according to Briggs, is estimated to be around $7,500, and the cost to hire one full-time music teacher at the school has been budgeted at $68,680.

When asked about a 909.9-percent increase in the division’s FICA and Medicare benefits line item for its operations and maintenance category, Briggs explained that this was due to the division’s decision to bring maintenance back in house rather than continue to use GCA Services Group. She added that this was simply a budgetary transfer rather than an increase, as the money would have otherwise gone toward renewal of GCA’s contract with the division.

“We’ll be taking requests for proposals for a new provider and with that request, we’ll be looking just at custodial services,” she said.

The difference between custodial and maintenance services, she explained, was that custodians are assigned to specific schools to help maintain the cleanliness of the buildings, whereas maintenance employees travel from school to school to make repairs such as replacing a ceiling tile or fixing a light fixture as such repairs are needed.

The School Board’s vote on final approval of the budget is expected to occur during the board’s regular scheduled meeting on March 8 at 6 p.m. in the boardroom of the Isle of Wight County Courthouse Complex. A complete copy of Thornton’s budget presentation can be found on the division’s website at: https://www.iwcs.k12.va.us/apps/pages/budgetplanning.