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Halifax County schools pare budget requests to $1.1 mil

SoVaNow.com / March 15, 2018
Responding to a plan to add only $159,000 in local funding to the Halifax County school budget, school officials have pared back their lists of needs to $1.1 million — roughly half what trustees originally asked for.

The Halifax County School Board expressed frustration with the county’s funding plans at their regular monthly meeting Wednesday night, held two days late due to Monday’s snowfall.

“Very disheartening,” said school board chairan Joe Gasperini of the funding support offered by the county.

He called on members of the community to attend next Monday’s public hearing of the Halifax County Board of Supervisors to press for more money. “We need to see that this process for funding has to change,” said Gasperini. “We need for you to reach out to your supervisor and let them know what we need.”

The effort to drum up public support comes after County Administrator Jim Halasz unveiled a draft county budget proposal last week that calls for the School Board to receive an additional $159,000 in local dollars. School trustees had asked for a significantly higher amount as part of an overall budget increase of $2.2 million.

A significant share of the $2 million would come from new state and federal revenue.

At Wednesday’s meeting, Superintendent of Schools Mark Lineberg and interim finance director Bob Aylor, explained to trustees that they have now pared down the list of operating needs to fit within a projected boost in local funding of $1,099,267.

Noting that they still have no concrete funding numbers on what to expect from the state, Lineburg and Aylor outlined the revised list of needs:

» a two percent pay increase for all staff, costing $726,249

» another $353,063 to compress the steps on the teacher pay scale. Together with the two percent pay hike, the money for additional compensation totals up to $1,079,312.

» $61,000 for mandatory maintenance

» $412,862 for staffing requirements, including new personnel.

» $758,928 is also still needed for equipment and transportation needs.

The overall cost — slightly more than $2.3 million — would be offset in part by projected savings of $1.2 million, which includes eliminated positions and the closing of the Cluster Spring Early Learning Center.

Another item that trustees tackled last night was health insurance premiums. Their consultant, Patsy Akridge recommended the Local Choice Anthem plan that includes both a $1,000 deductible or a $2,800 deductible plan be implemented. This option offers better coverage and lower monthly payments for employees, as well as dental coverage, she said. She said the cost to the school board would be $5,004,636, not including what employees would pay.

But Gasperini asked why the school system did not get a decrease in its rate since last year insurance claims totaled only $4.5 million while the school system and its employees paid $6,086,000 in premiums.

After a lengthy discussion Akridge was asked to bring more options to the board before any decision on health insurance is made in early April.

The board also discussed starting a math specialist program with Old Dominion University , in which as many eight local math teachers would enroll in a 21-credit program to learn to be trainers for other teachers. Lineburg said he does not yet know how the program will be funded, but he is anxious to have the best possible teachers in the local schools, although Coleman opposed the idea.

With the meeting held at Halifax County High School, HCHS Principal Mike Lewis introduced several student groups including the pep band, members of the Robotics team, the swim team and the FFA, all which showed off their programs.

He also introduced Senior Class president Grant Nelson, who gave a very inspirational story about his school experiences in the Halifax County Public Schools which he has attended since kindergarten.



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Comments

Stop with the % raises. The folks w the highest salaries get the biggest raises. Fix the scale and give teachers what they deserve.

Comments

No administrator or central office staff should get any raise, just teachers, and support staff. They need to live with the money the BOS gives them! Why don't our elected officials listen to the people that put them in office?


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