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Halifax County trustees, supes sit down with much to discuss / January 25, 2018

The Halifax County School Board and Board of Supervisors will hold a joint meeting this morning to talk about school funding, declining enrollment and staffing challenges, and the most expensive problem of all: what to do about aging facilities, especially Halifax County High School.

The trustees have prepared two options on HCHS to present to supervisors — $40 million to renovate the 40-year-old building, or $85 million to build a new facility — that each come with a complex set of issues to weigh in determining which is the best choice for the future.

The joint meeting of the two boards will begin at 9 a.m. at the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center’s Hope Classroom. The meeting is open to the public.

While the high school is the most expensive fix on the School Board’s plate, the trustees will present the findings of a recent facilities review of all 12 county schools. Some of the needs identified in that study include roof repairs, painting, parking and paving, and the replacement or repair of HVAC systems.

The Capital Improvements Plan, presented to trustees at their January meeting by Superintendent of Schools Mark Lineburg and operations and maintenance director Jay Jennings, also prioritizes the timeline for carrying out the work. Fixes envisioned in the current year, costing around $600,000 to $700,000, include the following:

» replacement of two boilers (out of the three) at Halifax County Middle School. Currently, the entire building is being heated by only one boiler.

» paving of the STEM Center faculty parking lot.

» painting the interior of Scottsburg Elementary.

» replacement of the stage curtains at both Scottsburg and Meadville elementaries.

» replacement of overflow pipe in the high school’s irrigation pond. The existing pipe is rusted out.

Longer term, redoing the high school — via renovations or new construction — will require tens of millions of dollars.

The 288,000 square foot, multi-story building opened in 1979 on 74.1 acres of land. HCHS has not undergone a major renovation since its debut, and school officials have catalogued myriad problems with the building: inadequate heating and lighting, poor indoor air circulation, an outdated stage and tattered carpeting, and a need for new security systems and front wall glass fixtures.

Separate from the main building, the football stadium has poor seating and inadequate field house facilities, an outdated press box, and concession and restroom buildings that depend on electric space heaters to prevent freezing. None of the buildings have any cooling systems.

Before the trustees and supervisors delve into facilities issues, they will receive an overview on the state budget, and how much Halifax County can expect to receive in state K-12 education funding — a number that remains in flux as the General Assembly session continues through February.

A key consideration are plans by the General Assembly and Gov. Ralph Northam to raise teacher salaries — a debate that will piggyback off of former Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s proposed two-year budget, which called for raising teacher pay by 2 percent in the second year.

Trustees and supervisors also will look this morning at the expected loss of enrollment in county schools and how that may affect state funding.

Members also will discuss staffing trends for the past 10 years and the pay scale of all school employees. The discussion is expected to include comparisons between pay scales in Halifax County and those of neighboring localities.

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Ok. I hpe the locals have learned that you cannot avoid maintaining these buildings. You will pay one way or other. As far as maintenance goes the efforts must first go into he buidings. All things like spending several million for new football stadiums is non essential. The existing feld is fine and just needs mior pinting and some metal and concrete fixes. The area needs to keep things scalable thus having an annual maintenance lan to provide upkeep and take care of items before they break.

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