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Lineburg sets departure as superintendent

South Boston News
Lineburg
SoVaNow.com / November 24, 2021
Mark Lineburg, superintendent of Halifax County Public Schools since 2017, announced his retirement Monday in a message to school staff and after consulting with school board members about his decision. Lineburg’s last day leading the school division will be Feb. 17.

It was a move Lineburg said he had been pondering for some time — after a trying two years that saw educators and school board trustees struggle with the hardships of the pandemic, followed by difficult debates on the future of Halifax County High School, employee compensation and elementary schools. In an interview, Lineburg acknowledged “it’s been a tough stretch.”

But he said none of that is behind his decision to leave.

“It’s been rough and tumble politically,” Lineburg said of the past two years, “but by and large people treated me really, really, really well. You put in 31 years in public schools, as a leader, you start to ask what’s next.”

While he will retire as HCPS division superintendent, Lineburg said he will continue to be active in public schools. He said he has accepted a position with the public schools district in Birmingham, Mich., located some 17 miles from Detroit, where he will serve as an assistant superintendent. The Birmingham district operates 13 schools with 8,005 students, according to U.S. News & World Report.

“I’ve always wanted to live in an urban area,” said Lineburg, a Martinsville native. “I love sports and music and things like that. I’m looking forward to seeing the [Detroit] Lions and Pistons play, and the Tigers. I’m a big fan of baseball. I’m excited about this next chapter in my life.”

In an email to school staff, Lineburg wrote, “I have absolutely loved working for and with Halifax County Public Schools during these past five years and I have admired your work. The students in Halifax County Public Schools are among the best anywhere in the country.

“My favorite moments have been walking the halls and visiting your classrooms, talking with you, and enjoying all our victories … Simply put, I love our schools and our people.”

Those words were sincere, Lineburg said Tuesday. “I want to give my heartfelt thanks to the community. I love HCPS and I’ve been treated as well here as I’ve been treated anywhere my whole life. I dearly love Halifax.”

Lineburg said he first confided his intention to move on in a Nov. 14 phone call with School Board Chair Kathy Fraley. He said his decision to leave was not influenced by a Thursday night joint meeting of the School Board and Board of Supervisors, which produced no outward movement towards resolving the question of what to do about the high school.

The School Board voted to approve an employee compensation package that Lineburg developed to make Halifax County school salaries competitive with nearby divisions. But that vote by trustees came over warnings that the salary plan will not be sustainable over the long term without a major tax increase or elementary closings.

Lineburg said he plans to continue working with members of both boards to resolve those challenges until his departure.

“I would love to see us knock out the compensation [package] and see us moving forward on the high school before I leave. I do hope that will happen.

“I always thought about staying and seeing the high school through, but that’s four years away. That seems like a long time.”

School superintendents throughout the U.S. are stepping down or pulling back from lead roles, a development that Lineburg said is tied to the overwhelming demands of the job. “The lifestyle of being a superintendent, to do it justice, is 80 to 100 hours a week. I’m not sure that’s healthy,” he said, adding that he has endured many sleepless nights of his own since the pandemic.

“I don’t want to sound like I’m not tough, but there’s a lot to being a superintendent … The reason I got into education is because I love the kids and the subject matter, and it seems like I’m getting further away from that.”

A former social studies teacher, Lineburg obtained a certificate to teach English “because I love books and reading.” With that, he obtained permission from the School Board to pursue a brief sidelight — co-teaching an AP English class at the high school with Beth Layne, who has since retired.

Calling that teaching stint “one of my favorite experiences of my entire life,” Lineburg said, “the kids in that class were magical and smart, and they read the books and the discourse in that class was something that every person in Halifax County could be proof of. I just loved it.”

“I love the Comets and Halifax County High School and they [school board trustees] allowed me to do that. I really enjoyed it.”

Of his call to build a new high school — which the School Board backs — Lineburg said, “My job is to battle for the students in the school. You want the best for them. People say [I] want a Taj Mahal. I don’t want a Taj Mahal. I want a good building that’s healthy and safe for them.

“The high school is a horribly designed building. It just is. The materials in it are not good. It’s too much square feet in the building. It’s a security risk …. If renovation was a better solution, I would do that.

“I think it’s amazing that there’s $135 million out there at your fingertips to build a new high school and address the elementary schools. And you protect the real estate tax,” said Lineburg.

It was a reference to the sum that the county’s financial advisors say can be borrowed for school construction without raising property taxes. Payments on the debt would be supported using only revenues from the county’s 1-cent sales tax, and existing dollars set aside for school debt service that will come off the books in 2028.

While Lineburg said he hopes to see the HCHS debate through to a conclusion, he said he’s realistic about the job of school superintendent.

“It’s a flow-through. There are very, very few places where you sustain a superintendent for more than a few years. Everything I’ve tried to do is make sure the county and the two boards can make those big decisions. They’re the ones who will be here after I’m gone.

“There’s some time on it” — figuring out what to do about the high school, compensation and small elementary schools — “but there are big decisions ahead.”

He also said he wants his successor to be able to build on hoped-for progress with the high school and compensation and walk into a situation where “you’ve got some really good things going.

“Because the big things are knocked out for you, the challenge will eventually be to figure out the elementary schools and where you want to go with that,” he said.

Lineburg came to Halifax after previously serving as school superintendent for City of Bristol and Winchester public schools. Prior to that, he was a teacher, football coach, principal and administrator.

Lineburg wrote to school staff in his resignation message that he has come to “dread that spotlight” with being HCPS superintendent and “with all the tough decisions we have faced I often felt what seemed to be the weight of the world on my shoulders.

“School has been the centerpiece of my life,” he wrote.



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Comments

Clays Mill, Sinai, Meadville, Virgilina…Elemtary Schools are/were the Centerpiece of Those Communities. You Go, Let the schools stay!

Comments

He said not a word about the students, which everytime he used as a prop to get the new high school. My prayers were answered, he leaving!!!

Comments

Halifax should change from the Comets to the Fools! Halifax is not a destination location. In the few years of bickering about a new school counties around have built new schools and hired away your teachers and administrators. There are currently 38 openings still posted. When there are openings, nobody even applies. When Lineburg was hired, very few superintendents applied. When football came open, very few applied. When Halifax is mentioned throughout the state, people ask if it is really the sh!t show that it is known for. Having suffered through a few years there, I know that Lineburg was 100% about the students and did not have ulterior motives. The people of Halifax chased another good educator away and remember, be careful of what you wish for.

Comments

Why can we all not think. Look all around, Danville Public Schools, Pittsylvania Public Schools, Mecklenburg Public Schools, Person County N. C. Schools = all have openings now, three to four months in, We lost a lot of lives to COVID and COVID changed the minds of a lot of teachers. People are not just leaving education, they are leaving other industries, white collar jobs that did pay big bucks, well you can make just as much in the Ringgold truck plant, the Apple factory in Raleigh, UPS, FEDEX. The. Script has switched. For as far back as I know

, teachers like Mrs. Penick, Mrs Ford, Mrs. Conner, Mr. Waldo, Mrs. Moore, Mrs. Burnett, well I will guarantee you this, they taught for the kids, not for the paycheck. And all the great coaches, coach Starnes, Coach Mitchell, Coach Thompson, Coach Crittenden, Coach Young, Coach Palmore - they did not coach solely for the money, really do you think Coach Palmore was in it for the money or to advance the lives of the student

Comments

Good don't let the door hit you on the way out! Now if the school board will hire a local person, a Halifax co native and current school employee to be supt with a lower salary. None of them are worth 150K

Comments

Superintendents come to Halifax only if it is their last stop! None have moved to bigger and better! Check the history-all forced out in one way or another! No young, smart, up and coming superintendent would every come here! Check the history!!!

Comments

Hey Allpolitical2, it is your buddy. You write like the new superintendent could be anyone. Because Halifax gets most of their education money from the state, that person must have education degrees, and certificates that they have passed certain courses and approved by the state. Now, Teachers. There are vacant teacher positions everywhere. Pitt co., Mecklenburg, Person Co. n.c.. Even Fauquier Co. has 40, and their starting salary is $44,800 + 1k for ma +2k for ba and they rapidly advance to top teacher salary of $79,000. Their board is talking about signing and loyalty bonuses and a housing allowance. Other systems are doing the same. Halifax??

Comments

Yooyooyooo Allpolitical2. Did you have to let your pants out after Thanksgiving?
So, you say $150 is too much to pay for a superintendent…….how much would you want Halifax to pay. And our principals make $75,000.00 and probably near or over $100,000.00 at the top of the scale. I would love to know how much you would pay these ladies and gentlemen, teachers maybe $20 an hour, principals maybe $40. An hour and the superintendent maybe $55 an hour plus some tomatoes, corn, cucumbers, green peppers, some watermelon, a ham, and a quarter steer to barter him or her with. Oh, and we need wood for the heating system, your old pot belly stove.

Comments

Hey Allpolitical2, found another flip flop by you. On 8/23/13 in The News and Record, on the subject of lower test scores, you wrote Halifax needs two high schools and two middle schools, and that is where the money should be spent. Was that a flip/flop or a flop/flip?

Comments

With the 135 mil that they would pay for one school then you could free up money and if you read my comments, money saved could pay for the two schools. Don't cherry pick comments. Also oz the super should only be making 75 k or so admin 60 or so teachers make approximately 30 per hour and they complain. You think like a demorat throw money at it and it will fix it. I guarantee a new school will not bring any new industry and all the bull they are throwing around about how it will will be prove me right.

Comments

Allpolical2, what year did you stop seeing the costs and salaries around you. I bet 30 years ago the Superintendent here made far more than the 75k that you reference, or even Mr. Clark made more than 75k as Principal.. Why would someone want to be Supt. Here for $75k when they can go to Raleigh, Chapel Hill, Charlotte, Richmond, or any county in Northern Virginia and make four times Halifax. And the same for teachers, they can top out at $80k or so. Halifax is not a charity. They owe it to their families to make the most they can to support their family. But, I agree with you, I don’t think a new school will bring new industries, but we do owe our kids better than what we have now. Our present high school has never had maintenance and the water and mold problem is unhealthy

Comments

Allpolical2, this is my last post. Your way of thinking upsets me. My five best friends are Republican, three think the way I think on the schools subject. So, I graduated from Halifax High School in the early. 70s, no college, and in 2000 I made $41,887. I know I was lucky, but you want a teacher, who has paid or is paying for 4 years of college to make less than I did or probably less than your earnings. That is just not right, it does not recognize the hard job that a teacher has or the very straight and narrow line they have to walk. So long.


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