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2 percent pay hike gains Halifax County trustees’ approval

SoVaNow.com / May 16, 2013
Halifax County school employees will receive a two percent pay increase next year, following months of budget negotiations that finally have come to a close.

The School Board ended doubts that Halifax County would be able to afford the raises by approving a balanced 2013-2014 budget on Monday night. A lingering shortfall was closed by eliminating or changing 12 expenditures.

The board earlier approved cuts of $669,445 and other personnel cost reductions of $1,009,973. The new budget will take effect July 1.

On Monday night, trustees voted to reduce summer contracts and pay supplements in the amount of $28,777. They also cut the number of lead special education teachers from seven to five, saving another $100,000.

Using federal funds to pay one central office secretary lowered the budget deficit by $37,000, while moving another central office administrator to partial payment using federal funds sliced off another $12,502.

Shifting the salary of the food services coordinator to food service saved yet another $50,000, while moving the New Beginnings and GED programs from their present location at the Mary Bethune Complex will save another $30,000 in the budget.

Holding over Title VI and Title II funds saves another $175,000, and requiring no uniforms for students in the Alternation Education program saves $2,000.

Reducing travel costs, field trips and limiting athletic invitational events will cut $75,000.

Reducing heating oil costs saves $25,000, and increasing the charges for outside groups to use school buildings provides another $15,000.

The approved budget does not include plans for closing the Cluster Springs Early Learning Center. Superintendent of Schools Dr. Merle Herndon advised board members that closing the school would need to be carefully considered before any action should be taken.

In other business, the School Board approved guidelines for crediting new employees with previous experience for purposes of compensation. The changes will take effect with the new fiscal year.

The guidelines were approved on a 6-1 vote with only ED-8 trustee Walter Potts voting in opposition. “I’m not going to vote for a budget that is balanced on the backs of people who have got as many years of service as they have,” Potts said, referring to his earlier complaints about cancellation of the LORP early retirement incentive program and downward salary adjustments for some school employees.

Valdivia Marshall, executive director for administration, explained that in creating the pay-for-experience guidelines, the School board would establish a policy of fairness and consistency in awarding credit for previous experience.

Those with teaching experience with a bachelor’s degree or higher will be awarded one year of credit for one year of teaching in a public or private accredited school. Teachers also are eligible for one year of credit for one year of teaching in Early Childhood Education or Head Start programs, at a college or university, or in an accredited pre-school or accredited military academy, if the subject taught is one normally offered in Halifax County schools.

For career switchers, a person with a degree or certification in a non-teaching area would be awarded one year’s credit for every three years of work. For military experience, credit would be given at one year for one year.

The guidelines also cover maintenance and mechanic credits, as well as secretarial and paraprofessional experience and status changes.



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