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School trustees, Lineburg step up pace on budget / July 13, 2017

Apart from the School Board’s primary goals, Tuesday’s marathon retreat in Lynchburg signaled a significant planning change ahead: preparing the school budget in September to present to the Board of Supervisors much earlier than in past years.

Usually, the Board of Supervisors presents the School Board a budget by March 30, which can occur before the State allocates funding to school districts. The Board expressed frustration at the Supervisors who dished out funding to the school system, which then directed funds to the individual schools. The process could not be based on the needs of the schools, but what the Supervisors allotted to them that year, school trustees felt.

“When the first Japanese maple turns, we need to start,” Lineburg said, affirming his position of creating a budget calendar and finance committee in September. October would begin the process of gathering input from separate schools.

“I fully support starting it sooner,” said Fay Satterfield (ED-6), but voiced her concerns about the finance committee making pre-emptive decisions and not just collecting information and data.

The thought was seconded by Walter Potts Jr. (ED-8): “Don’t bring me something important [and new] that has to be voted on that night.”

The budget would likely also attempt a redo of the current Halifax School System pay scale, with a current total of 46 levels.

“We’ve got too many steps,” said Joe Gasperini (ED-4).

The pay scale issue is further exacerbated with the pay increases over the years. While the percentage increase is the same for all employees, the real dollars are different. When all Halifax employees receive a two percent pay increase, the actual dollar gain of higher-paid employees is more than lower-paid employees.

Progressively, these percentage pay increases heighten the income gap within the school system.

Satterfield said she consistently had voted against these pay increases to avoid this problem, but said, “I’ll never be in favor of taking someone’s money away from them.”

However, Potts acknowledged that, “We’re not going to get a simple solution.”

Lineburg suggested that the pay issue be resolved with the input of the Virginia Educators Association, teachers and employees. He stressed that collection of information was key.

“If we don’t get them [employees, parents and citizens] behind us, we’ll be spitting in the wind,” said Potts.

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