School Board urges General Assembly support for sales tax bill

Published 9:31 am Friday, January 19, 2024

Isle of Wight County’s School Board, on Jan. 11, unanimously adopted what its chairman, Jason Maresh, hopes will become a joint resolution of the board and county supervisors urging Isle of Wight’s General Assembly representatives to approve a 1% sales tax increase by local referendum to fund school construction.

Only nine Virginia localities – Charlotte, Gloucester, Halifax, Henry, Mecklenburg, Northampton, Patrick and Pittsylvania counties and the city of Danville – are afforded the option under current state law. State Sen. Jeremy McPike, D-Prince William, recently filed Senate Bill 14, which would abolish the list and expand the option to all cities and counties.

The 2024 General Assembly session began Jan. 10. McPike’s bill is slated for review by the Senate’s Committee on Finance and Appropriations.

The resolution, which the supervisors have yet to sign, is addressed to Dels. Otto Wachsmann, R-Sussex, and Nadarius Clark, D-Suffolk, who each represent Isle of Wight County in the House of Delegates, as well as to Sen. Emily Brewer, R-Isle of Wight.

“This is a nonpartisan resolution,” Maresh said. “It takes both sides of the perspective and it makes a statement that we as a board and hopefully collectively with the county supervisors all support allowing the residents of  Isle of Wight to decide how to fund in part school construction repairs.”

The sales tax issue topped the list of 2024 legislative priorities the supervisors voted unanimously in November to adopt. The county began pushing for the sales tax option four years ago when it began looking at replacing the circa-1961 Hardy Elementary with a new, larger school. The new Hardy opened its doors to students at the start of the current school year after a roughly 18-month construction process.

The supervisors and School Board are now looking to fund the replacement of Westside Elementary, another school that dates to the 1960s, as well as stalled renovations to two wings of the old Hardy, which the School Board has proposed converting to a new central office for the school division’s administrators.