IW School Board adopts capital plan

Published 5:44 pm Friday, February 24, 2023

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The Isle of Wight County School Board, on Feb. 9, adopted its capital improvements plan.

The plan lists security upgrades as its top priority. The upgrades include adding “vestibules” to all nine schools for an estimated $901,000 and another $2.5 million for 25 two-lane screening devices.

The vestibules would add a second set of locked doors to each school’s entrance, making visitors check in with the school’s office before being allowed access to the rest of the building. The screening devices would function like metal detectors but use artificial intelligence to distinguish between weapons and other metallic objects for more rapid screening.

Replacing the 1960s-era Westside Elementary or building a new school is now the No. 2 priority, a change from a January draft that listed a $5.5 million “fleet services building” for maintenance on school buses in the No. 2 slot. The building and an additional $100,000 for renovating the existing circa-1955 bus garage is now the No. 3 priority.

Per the board’s January discussions, expanding Isle of Wight’s career and technical education programs, renovating Smithfield High School’s band and chorus rooms, offering publicly-funded preschool for all 4-year-olds in the county, and upgrades to Smithfield’s and Windsor High School’s baseball and football fields are listed as priorities four through eight, respectively.

With the School Board’s vote now on record, the plan will head to county supervisors, who have the final say over which school projects get funded in the county’s overall capital improvements program.