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Lineburg: Accreditation, better pay, facilities top school priorities

SoVaNow.com / December 18, 2017
Halifax Count Superintendent of Schools Mark Lineburg told the Halifax County Board of Supervisors that he has five main goals for the school system — with full accreditation for all nine county schools at the top of his list.

He also touched on facility needs, with solutions for high school and football stadium as top priorities. Lineburg told supervisors that the school facilities committee is looking at options for either renovating the current high school or building a new facility. Other pressing needs are elementary school improvements and better compensation for local teachers, administrators and staff members

Lineburg estimated it would cost $1,048,030 to give teachers a three-percent raise and administrators a two-percent raise. He pointed out that giving all employees a two-percent cost-of-living wage increase would require an additional $800,032.

Board of Supervisors Chairman Dennis Witt, himself a former school superintendent, described the current salary scale as “awful,” with too many steps. Witt asked how many teachers had left the system due to compensation issues and was told that Halifax just recently lost 12 teachers to neighboring Mecklenburg County.

ED-1 supervisor J. T. Davis called the schools’ needs “the 800 pound elephant” in the Board’s budget discussions, but ED-3 Supervisor Hubert Pannell countered that something must done at the high school to correct a facility he described as an embarrassment.

In their only action of the day, the Board voted 7-0 in favor of a moral obligation pledge to support the School Board’s energy efficiency project. The school division is entering into a contract with Trane to install energy efficiency measures at the middle school, STEM Center and four elementary schools: South Boston, Cluster Springs, Scottsburg and Sydnor Jennings. Trustees have received a guarantee from Trane that the contract cost will be fully paid for from energy savings at the buildings.

The unanimous vote came with ED-5 supervisor Joey Rogers absent from the day-long session.

Supervisors also heard from Halifax County Service Authority director Mark Estes, who presented options from a preliminary engineering report for solving the problem of water capacity shortfalls at VIR.

Drawing from the report’s findings, Estes said it would cost approximately $2.4 million to connect the race track to the Pittsylvania County Service Authority, and it would take an additional 175 customers to make it self supporting. But he also pointed that VIR has reached its limit on the number of connections that the current water system can support. If more businesses or residences want to locate at the track complex, something has to be done to increase its water supply, Estes said.

Halifax County Administrator Jim Halasz said VIR has a major economic impact for Halifax County, which receives some $263,000 annually in real estate and personal property taxes from clients at VIR.

Also appearing before the supervisors was Public Works Director Ricky Nelson, who sought answers regarding the county’s system of collecting solid waste. Nelson’s questions include whether or not the county will proceed with more collection centers and if so, where they will be located and whether or not they will be monitored. He also asked about the status of standalone sites and the frequency of collection from the sites.

Nelson suggested that the county should build three new collection centers, adding to the current eight centers spread across its boundaries. He also suggested that electronic surveillance should be tried at one of the centers at a cost of $3,700 for a camera rather than paying for attendants at the center might be useful. (The cost of a new collection center he set at $65,000 which does not include land acquisition or driveway.)

Supervisors also noted that the Agricultural Forestral Districts (AFD) expire during the coming year and the board needs to decide if they will be extended. Currently, 16 percent of the county’s farmland is included in the AFDs, which provide tax incentives for property owners. The purpose of the AFDs is to protect and encourage the development and improvement of agricultural and forestal lands of 200 or more acres for the production of food and other agricultural/forestal products. It was pointed out that statewide 79 of the state’s 95 counties have either AFDs or other land use programs which include tax incentives.

Supervisors said they will look at the districts and how they are established to see what should be done with them later in the year.

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Comments

If they extend the ag districts, then they need to open it back to all farmers. Only a few got in on it the first time. Then they closed it due to budget cuts. So some farmers are getting breaks while others are not.

Comments

They ILLEGALLY closed the program. The Code of Virginia is clear on this matter, if you have AFD program you accept applications annually at a pre-determined date. Hearings are held and applications are voted on, up or down, based on merit and various criteria. The County "suspended applications" by Resolution which is not allowed by the Code of Virginia. Remembering that VA is a Dillon Rule state this suspension is not within the power of the local Governing Body. Someone should file a new application with the County and if denied should appeal to the Courts.


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