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County School Board Selects Committee To Review Efficiency Study Options

Halifax County School Board Chairman Walter Potts appointed a committee Monday night to look at having an efficiency study conducted for the Halifax County School System. That action came during the school board’s April meeting at the Mary Bethune Office Complex in Halifax. Potts named board members Joe Gasperini, Karen Hopkins, Stuart Comer and Dr. Roger Long to the committee, with Long serving as chairman. He urged the committee to seek information regarding the feasibility, cost, and implementation of an efficiency study and to report back to the board in a timely fashion. 

Prior to Potts’ appointing the committee, several board members addressed the need for an efficiency study. Gasperini said the issue has been bantered about for several years to have an independent, knowledgeable independent group look into the school system to determine where the system could operate more efficiently.

Gasperini said he would like to see a committee appointed to look at the alternatives available to the board for such a study, and he said various entities conduct studies, such as the state, VCU and the Virginia Association of School Superintendents.

Board member Fay Satterfield agreed with the idea of a study, saying she has been interested in such a study even before she considered running for the school board. She said if someone can show the board how it can do things that will save money and benefit the children, she would be for it.

Long also went on record as supporting a study, saying he has participated in five efficiency studies over the years. He said the board needs information in order to make informed decisions.

In other business, the board removed the 2010-11 Career and Technical Education Plan from the consent agenda for general discussion. Funding for items listed in the plan comes from the federal government in the form of Perkins funds. Gasperini and Satterfield had some questions about expenditures in the plan, and those questions were referred to Dr. Melanie Stanley, director of Career and Technical Education.

Deputy Superintendent Larry Clark said all items to be purchased with federal Perkins funds are on a state approved list of equipment that is specific for each individual vocational program. Dr. Long proposed a motion that the board approve the Career and Technical Education Plan, with Comer providing the second.

The motion passed 7-1 with Gasperini casting the dissenting vote.

Under reports, HCHS Principal Albert Randolph and Director of Technology Terry McGhee updated the school board on the new security system at the high school, consisting of 32 new high definition cameras placed at various locations around the school.

Randolph said the new system helps provide a safe, orderly operation at the high school. He said each administrator covers a specific zone when students are moving throughout the school day, and one person in the office is assigned to monitor the cameras during periods of high traffic throughout the day. He also said all the secretaries have been trained on the new security system.

The board also discussed the flow of traffic at the middle school, especially in the afternoon when school is dismissed. Superintendent Paul Stapleton said school officials have been working with the South Boston police on the problem of the large amount of traffic on the highway at the middle school each afternoon.

Stapleton said they have come up with an alternate plan to reroute traffic through the bus parking lot to the access road that runs in front of the bus shop and past the tennis courts and back to the turn in front of the school to pick up students.

Board member Stuart Comer said the Halifax County Transportation Safety Commission has been studying the problem and has worked out a plan. He recommended deferring a new pickup system until the opening of school next year, rather than rushing to implement a new system so near the end of the school year.

Stapleton recommended deferring to the transportation safety commission to develop the plan and bring it to the school board and the town for approval.