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School workers’ insurance hike offset

Halifax County School Board members voted to allocate $440,000 in carryover funding to help school employees pay for their health insurance increase during the board’s regular monthly meeting Monday night.

Last week during their meeting, Halifax County Supervisors approved a resolution authorizing Halifax County Public Schools to carry over a total of $515,108 in state funds to the 2010-11 budget year.

Bill Covington, chief financial officer, said he had been in talks with Anthem Insurance in an effort to reduce the increase to employees that will amount to an additional 9.5 percent or $55 per month for 10 months.

Joe Gasperini, ED-4 representative, suggested tabling the idea of using carryover money to pay for insurance until September since so much money is involved, and several board members implied they were not prepared to take action on the matter that night.

A roll call vote was taken on the matter, with six school board members voting in favor of using the carryover money to pay for the increase in health insurance premiums. Gasperini and Faye Satterfield, ED-6 representative, abstained.

In other business, Halifax County High School Principal Albert Randolph presented an overview on Advanced Placement (AP) scores for 2010.

“Our scores are not where we want them,” Randolph said.

According to the principal, during the 2010 spring administration of the AP tests, Halifax County Public Schools had 119 students take a total of 146 tests in the areas of English language and composition, English literature and composition, biology, chemistry, calculus, statistics and environmental science.

He said of the students taking the tests 46 were African American, 66 were white, five were Hispanic and two were Asian.

A total of 78 females and 41 males took the tests, he said.

According to Randolph, a student must score three, four or five in order to pass an AP exam.

Six of 54, or 11 percent, passed English language and composition. Last year 16 of 38, or 42 percent passed.

Ten of 44, or 23 percent, passed English literature and composition, whereas last year five of five, or 100 percent passed.

Four of 23, or 17 percent, passed biology, compared to last year’s eight of 20, or 40 percent who passed.

Three of 10, or 30 percent, passed chemistry, whereas last year four of 18, or 22 percent passed.

One student who took the calculus AP exam did not pass. Last year three of seven, or 43 percent, passed.

One of two, or 50 percent, passed statistics, compared to one of seven, or 14 percent last year.

Six of 12, or 50 percent, passed environmental science this year. There was no data available from 2009.

Randolph also explained that 46 African American students took 51 tests, with five students or 10 percent, getting qualifying scores.

Of the five Hispanic students who took eight tests, three students or 38 percent, received passing scores.

He said two Asian students took four tests, with three or 75 percent having qualifying scores. A total of 66 white students took 83 tests, with 19 students or 22 percent earning qualifying scores.

Also, Randolph said a total of 30 qualifying scores, or 21 percent of threes, fours and fives were earned on the 146 tests taken by students.

In 2009, a total of 37, or 39 percent of threes, fours and fives were earned on the 95 tests taken by students, he added.

Annual health report
Joe Griles, assistant superintendent for instruction, and Sylvia Briggs-Judkins, nurse manager, updated school board members on the annual school health report.

The report included several activities that school nurses conducted during the 2009-2010 year with Briggs-Judkins explaining the past school year began with usual activities for the school health program.

“When the Halifax County H1N1 Influenza vaccination project was initiated, the school health program was slightly interrupted. The nurses and the Halifax County Health Department worked so close together, it was extraordinary. Everyone performed above and beyond the call of duty,” she added.

Activities performed by the school nurses included in-service training for school staff (diastat, epipen injection and H1N1), in-service training for elementary students (good hand washing, sneeze into a sleeve and Cluster Springs hand washing video) and Southside Virginia Community College programs.

Briggs-Judkins also said this past year the licensed nurses were involved in the billing process for students with Medicaid and worked closely with the Special Pupil Personnel Department, Joan Bowers and Lynette Lovelace.

The nursing staff also submitted a PowerPoint in May 2009 to the school staff related to blood-borne pathogens, she said.

The following numbers were reported to the board by Briggs-Judkins and are the number of daily clinic visits for the 2009-2010 school year: Clays Mill, 328; Cluster Springs, 4,334; Meadville, 622; Sinai, 458; Scottsburg, 467; Sydnor Jennings, 708; South Boston, 4,565; South Boston/Halifax Early Learning Center, 84; Cluster Springs Early Learning Center, 75; Middle School, 6,471; and High School, 3,014.

She added the nursing staff screened students for vision and hearing including 324 kindergartners, 406 third-graders, 425 seventh-graders and 462 10th-graders.
A total of 716 fifth through 10th-graders were screened for scoliosis, she added.

In other reports, Carolyn Higgins, food service supervisor, announced Clays Mill, Meadville, Scottsburg, Sinai and Sydnor Jennings will receive funding to participate in the United States Department of Agriculture Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program during school year 2010-2011.

She added through this program the cafeterias are able to offer a variety of raw fruits and vegetables to students. Some of the items offered include apples, carrots, sweet potatoes and turnips.

Higgins said the feedback from students and parents has been positive.

Other business
• Larry Clark, deputy superintendent, presented a list of fees for sixth through 12th-graders for 2010-2011. He said fees for students did not increase.

• Board members approved the fee list for 2010-2011.

• Griles presented the Halifax County Alternative Education Recovery Program draft to school board members for approval.

• Linda Owen, supervisor of elementary education, and Frosty Owens, supervisor of secondary education, reported on summer instructional activities saying social studies and math guidelines were changed due to changes in the textbook.

Both said they were pleased with the turnout for the summer camps and summer schools with 134 students participating in the summer school program at HCHS.

• Director of Maintenance Larry Roller presented a report on mechanical system upgrades and energy conservation measures explaining the upgrades that have been conducted at the schools since 1992 including waste oil furnace, updated lighting, building remodeling and installation of boilers.

• Board members also approved athletic field trips and financial reports, as well as payment of bills.

• When the board emerged from executive session, they approved the personnel report.

Upcoming meetings

Halifax County School Board members will participate in a retreat Friday at Riverstone Technical Building and also will participate in a special called meeting with VASS on Aug. 27 at 1 p.m. in the School Board Conference Room.

The next Halifax County School Board meeting is scheduled for Sept. 13.