SMITHFIELD, Va. (WAVY) - The Isle of Wight school board says it will not be able to pay employees unless the Board of Supervisors gives the school system $1.4 million.
"This is a tough situation we're facing, whether we would be able to pay our employees beyond June," said Kenita Bowers, a spokesperson for Isle of Wight County Schools.
At the end of every fiscal year, the school board is required, by law, to give unspent dollars back to the county.
"Any unused funds go back to the locality, which is the county and the board of supervisors," Bowers said. "They determine whether or not to reappropriate those funds."
So far, supervisors have tabled the vote three times. Chairman Joann Hall says the board wanted to see documentation of what the school board agreed to pay for, with money it knew it would have to give back to the county.
"At the end of last fiscal year, they made a lot of purchases in the last couple of the weeks of the year, encumbering the money, thinking it would just roll back over and they would pay," Hall said. "Well, it didn't."
And, because the money didn't roll over, the school board had to use this year's budget to pay last year's bills, with money normally set aside for employee salaries.
"We really want to work with the Board of Supervisors and come to an agreement, so it doesn't come to the worst," Bowers said.
Residents say the bickering between the school system and the supervisors has to stop, for the sake of school employees and students.
"It's just like Washington, they can't come to terms," Christine Parks, who has a grandchild in the school system, said. "Why do we pay these people, or elect them, if they cannot come to terms? I mean, it's our children's education."
The chairman of the Board of Supervisors agrees.
"It's unfortunate that there seems to be a lack of communication between the school board and the supervisors, and, in all honesty a lack of trust," Hall said. "That's something we both need to work on."
As for the paychecks, Hall says the supervisors will never let that happen, so the threat is an idle one.
The supervisors will vote on giving the $1.4 million back to the schools at the March 21 meeting.
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