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Trustees To Tackle School System Efficiency Study

School board members Joe Gasperini and Fay Satterfield are slated to address an efficiency study of the school system tonight when the Halifax County School Board meets at 7 p.m. in the public meeting room of the Mary Bethune Office Complex. Last month, ED-4 School Board representative Gasperini asked the county board of supervisors to place a condition on funding a portion of the school system’s $13 million local allocation “unless and until the school board has initiated an efficiency study of the school system’s operations and the spending of taxpayer money.”

Gasperini told supervisors on March 22 he was speaking because he wanted the school board “to have the opportunity to be able to act on the concerns of the community’s citizens, its school teachers and the concerns of you supervisors.

“Unfortunately,” he continued, “the school board has been led to believe that the early retirement package offered is sufficient enough to make up our budget shortfall, and there is no reason to look at further budget cuts.”

Gasperini said he believes the school system contains “many fluff programs that are taking funds away from the basic educational needs of the children of Halifax County.

“For the over two years I have been on the school board, there have been concerted efforts to preserve the central office and divert attention away from any effort to cut back on any of the pet programs that are implemented and even expanded upon.

“Partial information, innuendo, fear tactics and outright intimidation have been a way of life in this school system for too long,” Gasperini charged.

“I have heard over and over again, get five votes to any discussion or point raised that questioned any major item brought forth that was not aligned with what our superintendent wanted.

“By keeping many uninformed or misinformed, there is seldom the ability to get a majority to counter many of the questionable expenses of precious funds,” Gasperini continued.

He urged supervisors to hire “an independent, knowledgeable outside group to perform a study of the school system operations” to determine how school resources could best be used.

Gasperini suggested the state may be willing to fund the majority of this study, and the supervisors previously have indicated their willingness to fund the balance.

“I believe it will be money well spent, and it will ensure that there will be no group or programs that are not subject to scrutiny,” he concluded.

Also during tonight’s meeting, recognitions of students and bus drivers headline the agenda.

Board Chairman Walter Potts and Superintendent Paul Stapleton are expected to recognize school division art winners in the Virginia School Board Association (VSBA) Southern Regional Forum art competition.

Assistant Superintendent for Instruction Joe Griles is scheduled to present members of the Halifax County High School (HCHS) One Act Play team to the board to be recognized. Griles also is slated to present the winners in the HCHS Poetry Out Loud competition to the board.

Director of Transportation Dave Guill is slated to introduce winners in the Region VIII School Bus Road-E-O competition to the school board.

Director of Technology Terry McGhee is scheduled to report to the board on the new security system at the high school. Under unfinished business, Superintendent Stapleton is expected to discuss the VSBA board development session.

Chief Financial Officer Bill Covington is scheduled to report on the financial state of the school system as of the end of March and seek authorization from the board for payment of bills.

Prior to adjourning, the board is expected to go into executive session for personnel and student discipline.