The vision for Isle of Wight County Schools is to create a learning environment that enables every child to discover his or her unique gifts and talents. The mission is to enhance and expand on each child’s unique gifts and talents to ensure every child is college, career, and life ready. For this vision and mission to come alive in Isle of Wight County, it requires commitment from the School Board, school leaders, and all school staff. Another important group that may not always be acknowledged is the community. The community of stakeholders is made up of taxpayers both parents and citizens without children, business partners, and the Board of Supervisors. The old adage of “It takes a village” has never been more important in these very divisive times. We are fortunate to have two boards that have come together to look out for the interest of Isle of Wight County, first and foremost.
Our future is based on strong economic growth, which is not possible without a strong, viable workforce. The Board of Supervisors (BOS) understands this more than any governing body that I have worked with before. For the budget proposed during my first year, we focused on the condition of our facilities and added line items to ensure infrastructure upgrades and schedules for furniture, playground and bus replacement, as well as cycles for painting and paving at all schools. The BOS funded an increase of $736,000 to meet these very important needs that had been neglected for too long. In year two, our school board and I agreed that we should try to meet the school needs while trying to be fiscally responsible and only ask when funds were needed. We were able to improve our teachers scale without asking the county for any increase in local dollars. The BOS did fund an additional 2.7 million dollars in the Capital Improvement Budget to replace roofs at Carrsville, Carrollton, and Windsor Elementary school. In addition they agreed to take on the debt service for our new Career and Technical Education project that includes programs such as welding, agricultural sciences on the land lab, building trades, mechatronics, nursing, culinary arts, cosmetology, and global logistics.
This year, with increased enrollment, we met challenges in class size at the high school level that were not expected. Once again the BOS worked cooperatively with our Board to fund additional positions at SHS. The proposed budget for 2018-2019 had requests from several schools that would reduce class size and continue the quality education everyone has come accustomed to. The request was large--$1,094,000. School Board members met and publicly shared the reasons behind the requests. The number of community members who came out to provide public input was more than I had ever seen. The speakers were polite and stated their reasons for supporting the budget in a thoughtful and respectful manner. It was encouraging to see. The Supervisors came through once again by fully funding the schools operating request. They also fully funded the Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) requests to replace the HVAC at SHS (at a cost of $1.97 million over two years).
In my three years with IWCS, the Board of Supervisors have shown a willingness to work with the School Board to continue, and to even expand, the services provided to our students. They understand that their investment in the youngest citizens of Isle of Wight County will pay dividends for all stakeholders in the long run.