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Halifax County trustees, supervisors set membership of joint committee / February 13, 2020

The Halifax County Board of Supervisors and School Board have each named their representatives to a joint panel tasked with producing a consensus recommendation for the future of Halifax County High School.

On Monday night, trustees named ED-4 member Jason “Jay” Camp to round out its three-member contingent on the joint committee. In December, trustees appointed Sandra Garner-Coleman (ED-3) and Roy Keith Lloyd (ED-2) as panel members. Trustees delayed naming a third member until board newcomers could be seated following the November election.

The Board of Supervisors also has set its membership on the six-person committee. Chairman Hubert Pannell tapped newcomers Ricky Short (ED-1) and Dean Throckmorton (ED-5), joined by the board’s longest serving member, William Bryant Claiborne (ED-8).

At the School Board’s regular monthly meeting Monday night, held at the HCHS cafeteria, Garner-Coleman expressed optimism that the joint committee would be able to soon agree on a plan to upgrade the dingy high school facility.

“We need to move quickly on this,” said Garner-Coleman, vice chair of the School Board and a joint panel appointee. “I’m anticipating the two bodies will come together [on a recommendation before we meet again” in March.

The first meeting of the joint committee will take place Friday, at 2 p.m. in the School Board central office conference room, located on the first floor of the Bethune Office Complex in Halifax. The meeting is open to the public.

Garner-Coleman and ED-8 trustee Walter Potts each raised the point — expressed repeatedly by school administrators — that delays in getting started on a high school construction plan come at a steep cost. School officials have said construction expenses, whether for a renovation plan or a full rebuild, rise by roughly $400,000 for each month that goes by, based on Virginia Department of Education data. Potts suggested Monday the true cost is closer to $500,000.

“I want to make sure the Board of Supervisors knows it,” said Potts, referring to the inflation cost of construction. “This board knows it.”

The agenda for the first joint meeting calls for presentations by school administrators and County Administrator Scott Simpson, who will discuss financial projections by Davenport, which consults for the Board of Supervisors. The school information will be presented by Superintendent of Schools Mark Lineburg and Scott Worner, director of secondary education who serves as the central office’s point person on HCHS modernization issues.

The joint effort by supervisors and trustees comes after voters overwhelmingly approved a 1-percent Halifax County sales tax to pay for school construction. The referendum left open the question of whether tax proceeds should be spent on replacing or renovating the high school building.

School officials have suggested three basic options — repair, renovate or replace — and gathered information on the pluses and minuses of each. That information is expected to be a starting point for discussions by members of the joint committee.

In other business during a routine School Board meeting Monday, trustees heard from Director of Operations and Maintenance Steve Brumfield, who outlined plans to hold an April 4 surplus sale of vehicles, equipment and fixtures that the school division can no longer use or doesn’t need. The auction sale will be held at the Daystrom building at 1120 Green’s Folly Road starting at 9 a.m.

Brumfield said the auction will actually begin before April 4, when bidders will have an opportunity to view and inspect buses and vehicles that will be parked at the transportation building lot. The bidding will take place inside the Daystrom building starting on the morning of April 4.

Items for sale will include metal and wood-working equipment, kitchen fixtures and file cabinets, tables, chairs, tile, brick, electronics and a wide assortment of other items. Asked by trustee Freddie Edmunds what would happen to unsold items, Brumfield said those would either be donated to non-profit groups, recycled or properly discarded.

The auction sale will be the first for the School Board in many years. “We don’t have any idea what we’ll make off of it,” Lineburg told trustees, but whatever the amount of money, he suggested it should go into the school capital improvement fund.

“It’s a one-time item and I wouldn’t put it into a line item” of the regular budget, Lineburg said.

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