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Halifax County school budget cuts rise to $1.1 million

Personnel bears the brunt of reductions, with more perhaps in store / March 28, 2013
With $1.1 million in instructional cuts anticipated for the new fiscal year, the Halifax County school division has come up with a balanced budget — but the impact on personnel is still to be determined.

Superintendent of Schools Dr. Merle Herndon released the approved final version of the $57.2 million school budget shortly before 5 p.m. yesterday, following weeks of debate by school trustees on what items to cut out of the package.

Herndon declined to elaborate on the steps that school officials will take in the next steps to bring down personnel costs, which make up roughly 80 percent of the budget. But she acknowledged that staff cuts would account for the bulk of the savings the School Board is looking to make up.

“I really need to get through the next two days … in terms of notifying staff before giving out numbers that they haven’t even seen,” said Herndon.

While staff reductions are one option for achieving the required cuts, Herndon also noted that the division has flexibility in setting the length of employee contracts, which could also save money. She cited the option of placing some employees with 12-month contracts on 10-month contracts instead.

Such a step could help to cut payroll costs short of outright staff reductions. Eliminating $1.1 million would imply the loss of around 20 teaching positions, based on estimates in the recently-completed school efficiency study that teachers cost around $53,000 annually, including salary, benefits and taxes.

Off the table, for now, is any move to lower the salaries of staff members who may be beneficiaries of inequities in the school salary scale. “Salary inequities have nothing to do with this budget,” said Herndon. “[That] was removed from the final version that was created.”

Although the budget is balanced, that depends on the Board of Supervisors coming through with $240,000 in additional local funding, on top of a $360,000 boost that the supervisors are proposing for the next fiscal year. The recommendation to add $240,000 was offered by the supervisors’ budget committee, but the full board has yet to bring the proposal up for a vote.

The budget also could be thrown out of balance if the federal sequester cuts into the $3.6 million that Halifax County schools receives annually from Washington.

“This is our final budget today,” said Herndon. “It has not been confirmed we will get the $240,000 [extra from the county]. If we don’t, we’ll have to come back and get more cuts.”

The supervisors are expected to take up the funding request when they meet next Monday night, April 1.

Herndon said of the over $1 million in cuts, most will be made in instruction, although a few cuts were made in the transportation department.

She would not say exactly how many positions had to be cut, but added that the cuts “were deep and hard to make.”

A breakdown of the budget shows $38,251,445 would go for instruction with another $2,440,505 for administration, attendance and health.

Transportation costs will total $4,105,165 and operational and maintenance services take another $5,915,863. Food services get $2,850,000.

Halifax County Trustees delay action on pay adjustments

Halifax County School trustees on Monday night postponed consideration of salary adjustments for employees whose pay is out of line with peers — a fix that would require cutting pay for some, and raising it for others.

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Does anybody on this school board know the definition of leadership?
Leading is establishing direction and influencing others to follow that direction! This lady and the school board need to learn how to do that. Building morale and doing what is honest and having interigity is a part of leadership. Looks like they are taking their style from Obama


allpolitical2, the election is long over. Get over it. We all agreed with you, regarding what you said about the current school leadership, until you showed your ignorance.


Pesident Obama has nothing to do with this! I pray for all the people who were affected by the changes that were made and jobs that were lost. The whole school system is lost in my personal opinion. They do not know what to do themselves, they are just making rules up as they go and hoping for some type of change. The only mighty person to fix this mess is a man named JESUS. Jesus it is truly in your hands now and trust me people he will take great care of it for you all! Believe and have faith and in the meantime stay strong.

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