IW school work on track

Published 9:52 pm Tuesday, July 18, 2017

By Stephen Faleski

Special to the News-Herald

The Isle of Wight County School Board received updates on various summer renovation projects in the division and voted 4-0 with one absent to accept a foreign exchange student to Windsor High School during their July board meeting.

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Marty Callendar, the division’s director of support services, informed the school board that demolition at Windsor High School has been completed in the spaces that will eventually house the high school’s new cosmetology lab, collaboration space and greenhouse and that the new furniture for the cafeteria has arrived.

He added that the transportation department’s parking break interlock recall has also been completed and that 23 out of 85 buses were affected.

During the superintendent’s report, Assistant Superintendent Mike Lombardo, who was filling in for Superintendent Dr. Jim Thornton, presented an update on Virginia Senate Bill 1359, which requires school divisions to develop and implement a plan to test their schools’ water supplies for lead, and to correct any levels which exceed 20 parts per million.

According to Lombardo, the bill, which was signed into law on March 20 and took effect July 1, requires divisions to give priority to schools that were constructed in whole or in part before 1986. Four schools meet that criteria in Isle of Wight: Carrsville Elementary, Westside Elementary, Hardy Elementary and Smithfield High School.

Briggs explained that the division is seeking clarification from the state on whether this provision means that only schools built before 1986 must be tested or if it means that those schools must be tested first.

Though the school board typically does not recognize Isle of Wight Achievers during July, they did this time — calling the members of Windsor High School’s baseball team forward for special citation.

According to Briggs, the baseball team made the state tournament for the second consecutive year, and the seniors on the team had to miss their graduation to play a game in Radford. They were not recognized in June, because at the time their season was not yet finished.

WHS senior Noah Smith was also singled out for recognition for serving for the past two years as the school board’s student liaison. The board passed a resolution honoring his service.

Citizens’ time speakers included Reggie Jetton and Herb DeGroft. Jetton, who had spoken during the previous month’s school board meeting regarding school field trips to plantations, reiterated his concerns.

“You guys are failing your children of color; you are not doing your jobs,” Jetton said. “There is more to Virginia history than plantations.”

DeGroft advised the school board to share the Board of Supervisors’ comprehensive plan survey with employees of the school division and encourage their input. He also took issue with the school board’s awarding Thornton a new contract, which gave him a 6.9-percent increase in base salary plus additional 2-percent raises for each school year thereafter for the next four years.

DeGroft referred to the board’s decision as “having decided that their superintendent did not advocate for himself during salary negotiations when he was initially hired and playing Santa Claus to give him extra money.”

“I like Dr. Jim [Thornton], but you have to consider the effect on individuals’ morale,” DeGroft said, pointing out that teachers, by comparison, did not receive anywhere near as high of a raise.

“One of my biggest pet peeves with the Board of Supervisors and when I was on the school board is please don’t play Santa Claus with money; it’s not yours, it’s ours.”