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To build a budget / February 09, 2017
Halifax County is likely to get financial help from the state of Virginia as local officials confront tough choices with the onset of new fiscal year budget.

The General Assembly is considering amendments that could channel an additional $700,000 into the county’s 2017-2018 budget, which goes into effect July 1.

Del. James Edmunds said yesterday that the House of Delegates has already approved a one-time, lump sum payment of $400,000 to Halifax County as part of a “10-10-10” school funding bill.

The budget amendment gets its name from the targeted beneficiaries: local school divisions that have fewer than 10,000 students and have lost 10 percent of their enrollments over the past 10 years.

The General Assembly is looking to help school divisions that have experienced sharp drops in the number of students. State funding for education is set according to a school division’s average daily membership.

Before becoming part of the state budget, the 10-10-10 amendment must clear the state Senate. Edmunds said yesterday that he is optimistic that the Senate will go along with the idea.

Small school divisions that meet the criteria for 10-10-10 funding — including Halifax County — have argued that their costs do not decline in lockstep with the loss of student populations.

Edmunds also said the county is in line to receive about $291,354 annually from another proposal in the House of Delegates — increasing the percentage of lottery funding that goes to local school divisions. Edmunds said the additional lottery money for localities will be ongoing in future years.

State aid for school divisions that are losing student population at a rapid clip would help Halifax County reverse recent revenue losses. According to local statistics, Halifax County lost 13.5 percent of its state education funding from the 2010 school year to the 2016 school year. The dollar sum is $5,311,452, with the county forced to pay $2,265,040 more for education during the same time frame.

In the span from 2010 to 2016, Halifax County lost 797 students, or 14.1 percent of its enrollment. The average daily average membership, ADM, dropped from 5,647 to 4,850. In the 2017 school year, state funding amounted to $6,998 per pupil.

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