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$3.3 million needed for Halifax County school needs, pending shortfalls / January 10, 2013
Halifax County Schools will require a $3.3 million bump in the budget next year to keep up with rising costs and meet key objectives, including a 3 percent pay increase for employees.

School Finance Director Jay Camp advised school board members Monday on the financial challenges that lie ahead for the system for the coming budget year, which begins in July. Camp pointed to two areas where the schools need a cash infusion just to preserve the status quo —$569,000 to offset a shortfall in state funding this year, and another $700,000 to pay increased health insurance costs.

Camp also said $1.9 million will be needed for a “wish list” of items under consideration by the trustees for the next budget. The big-ticket item is a three percent pay increase for all employees — which in turn depends on Gov. Bob McDonnell’s plan for a two percent teacher pay raise surviving the General Assembly budget process.

Other items on the wish list include $160,000 annually for a five-year lease-purchase agreement to acquire ten new buses.

On that same list is a proposal to hire three instructional technology resource teachers (as mandated by the state Standards of Quality) as well as a second librarian at the high school (also a SOQ mandate). Those four positions would add another $240,000 to the budget.

Four more positions are on the wish list: a division-wide Autism specialist, a garage foreman in the transportation department, a maintenance operations coordinator to work under Larry Roller, and another resource officer for school security. Total cost: 195,000.

Two items dealing with school security measures also are included on the wish list: Video intercom remote access equipment would cost $20,000, while equipment for scan cards and tracks for staff and administrators would run about $80,000.

Two other software programs — one related to teachers recertification and professional development, and another for finding substitute teachers electronically — would cost another $28,000.

“These are just ideas of things we need for our schools,” said School Superintendent Dr. Merle Herndon. “We’re not going to get them all, but we have to start early thinking about our needs.”

Asking the school trustees to give her guidance on their budget priorities, Herndon noted that the school system is expected to present a draft budget to County Finance Director Stephanie Jackson by Jan. 15.

Board members took no action following the presentation, but voiced support for having two trustees, ED-5 Roger Long and ED-7 trustee Dick Stoneman, work with the superintendent and finance director on the draft budget.

ED-8 trustee Walter Potts was absent from the Monday meeting.

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As I said yesterday, is this lady crazy? Why can't the school board operate with out drama? No other school board creates this much drama except for maybe Wake Co, in NC! We need to cut back, the mention of a finance director again made me angry. why do we have a treasurer and a commissioner of the revenue? Looks like this high paying county job could be split between the two, but yet the county does not have its own online bill pay.

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