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Halifax County trustees renew talks on security, facilities / July 09, 2018

The Halifax County School Board will meet tonight in Halifax with two familiar topics — facility improvements and school safety — leading the agenda.

The trustees’ meeting, set for 6:30 p.m. in the second floor public meeting room of the Bethune Office Complex, features two main matters for discussion: the work of the school facilities committee, and ideas for school safety improvements, with Jeff Davis, director of student services, set to make a presentation.

In February, the school division hosted a town hall-style meeting with parents and others to solicit ideas for improving school security. School officials announced immediate actions in the wake of the Parkland, Fla. school shooting that left 17 dead: steps included distribution of “swipe cards” to law enforcement to allow immediate access to school facilities; pursuing state and federal grants to beef up security systems, and a State Police audit of middle school and high school facilities to pinpoint where safety deficiencies may lie.

The meeting with parents took place one week after the deadly shooting at Marjorie Douglas Stoneman High School in Parkland

Also tonight, the School Board is set to resume the ongoing dialogue on school facilities, following a June 25 architect’s report on options for modernizing Halifax County High School. Stephen Halsey of Richmond-based Moseley Architecture offered two approaches for fixing the outdated high school facility: a full renovation plan, complete with an all-new wing for career education and STEM classes, costing $88 million, or an entirely new school, costing $99 million.

Halsey also presented findings on the deferred maintenance needs of the county’s elementary schools, which would cost more than $20 million to fix, his firm estimates. Combined with much-needed repairs at the high school, Halifax County Public Schools has a deferred maintenance backlog of $56 million in basic projects alone, Halsey said.

These estimates do not include the separate cost of fixing up Tuck Dillard Stadium, which was built in the mid-1960s and has not received a significant upgrade since. Superintendent of Schools Mark Lineburg has presented an $8.9 million proposal for renovating the stadium for school and community use.

Other items on the agenda for tonight School Board meeting include:

» recognition of teacher Barbara Haven for her long-time work in support of Special Olympics;

» a proposed revision to the school division’s employee sick leave policy;

» a discussion of the HCPS group benefits agreement.

A portion of the meeting is set aside for comments by Lineburg, School Board chairman Joe Gasperini and by members of the public.

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