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Teacher rips trustees for lack of security / June 14, 2018

A high school teacher, Colleen Barnes, admonished members of the Halifax County School Board Monday night for failing to provide for the safety of students, administrators, teachers, parents, family and friends during the May 26 Halifax County High School graduation.

Five persons have been charged in the fight that broke out during the service.

“I was sitting on the floor during the service and you can only imagine how scared I was,” she wrote in a letter that she presented to trustees Monday.

In her letter, Barnes faulted school administrators for allowing the public to come to the service without any security measures in place to screen for possible weapons.

“There are metal detectors stored here at the school,” which were not used, Barnes said. Barnes acknowledged that use of the metal detectors might have delayed the program, but “I would rather be inconvenienced than be dead.”

Her critique led to a lengthy discussion among board members. ED-5 trustee Freddie Edmunds urged fellow members to use metal detectors not only at the high and middle schools, but at all the county’s seven elementary schools.

Edmunds asked for cost estimates for purchasing metal detectors at all county schools, requesting the information by the next board meeting.

ED-8 trustee Walter Potts stressed that any student who had been charged with illegal ownership of a firearm should have been denied inclusion in the school system (one of those charged had been charged with illegal ownership of a gun.)

In other business, trustees on a 4-3 vote (with ED-7 trustee Monty Lowery absent) approved regulations for outside use of school facilities. School Superintendent Mark Lineburg said he wanted to make the regulations as simple as possible, noting that the facilities can be made available to organizations when there is no conflict with the regular school programs.

Lineburg added that charges will be determined in accordance with the classification of the user group and the category of the event.

School facilities may be used for categories by the school board, PTA, PTO, athletics and band and the Fine Arts Series as well as those of DCC, SVCC, SVHEC, Longwood and other colleges without payment during time that custodians and administrators are on duty.

Those groups must pay the fees or others if the events last after the regular hours of custodians or administrators expire.

“We are simply trying to cover our costs,” Lineburg added.

Fees have been set with the cost of renting the high school auditorium and gymnasium set at $100 per hour and rental of the middle school auditorium set at $75 per hour. Rental fees of all classrooms was set at $25 per hour.

Finally, the School Board approved a resolution that deems the Cluster Springs Early Learning Center, located at 1011 Huell Matthews Highway as surplus property, meaning that ownership of the shuttered school will revert to the Halifax County Board of Supervisors which may decide the future of the property.

Students and staff members of the Early Learning Center have already been relocated to other schools.

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