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Retreat, public hearing focus on school board budget

Halifax County School Board members are beginning work on their 2011-2012 budget setting a timeline for workshops and hearings during Monday night’s meeting.

Tomorrow school board members will kick off budget discussions with the board of supervisors during their retreat at Riverstone from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m.

Tuesday night, the school board will provide the public an opportunity to comment on what they would like included in the upcoming budget during an input hearing to be held in the Halifax County Middle School cafeteria at 7 p.m.

The first budget work session is set for Monday, March 7, at 6 p.m. in the school board conference room.

A public hearing on the proposed budget is slated for the following Monday, March 14, at 6:30 p.m. prior to the regular school board meet-
ing which will be held in the public meeting room at the Mary Bethune Complex in Halifax.

On March 17 at 6 p.m., school board members will hold another budget work session in the school board conference room.

A special meeting for a final work session and approval of the proposed budget has been set for Thursday, March 31, at 6 p.m. in the school board conference room.

After setting the budget timeline, school board members did not further discuss the proposed school budget.

In other action during Monday night’s meeting, ED-4 representative Joe Gasperini proposed doing away with the Dual Enrollment program for ninth graders saying freshmen do not need to be in classes with juniors and seniors.

“We have lost interest in what is best for our students…Students need to get the basics down first,” he said.

ED-1 representative Devin Snead disagreed with Gasperini saying he supports Dual Enrollment.

“I wish there had been opportunities like this when I was in school,” he added.

ED-3 representative Kim Farson also said she supported the Dual Enrollment program. However, she expressed reservations about having ninth graders take classes with seniors.

She described the Dual Enrollment program as “a great program…I believe we should focus on quality not quantity. We need to make sure a student has completed part one of a program before part two. I really don’t believe ninth graders should be in class with 12th graders.”

Superintendent Paul Stapleton pointed out 70 students at the high school will receive their associate degrees this year.

ED-5 representative Dr. Roger Long said since the county school system is part of a state education system, he believes the problem is “more about administration and not curriculum.”

When School Board Chairman Stuart Comer asked if students could still receive their associate degrees if Dual Enollment is done away with for ninth graders, HCHS Principal Albert Randolph said, “No, they could not.”

Snead called for the question, and board members voted 2-5 with one abstention which caused the motion to fail.

Snead, Karen Hopkins, Long, Comer and Walter Potts voted no. Gasperini and Fay Satterfield voted yes, and Farson abstained.

During Monday night’s meeting, the school board chairman also signed a proclamation recognizing Feb. 19-26 as National FFA Week.

Board members heard FFA students Ellen Crowder, Rebekah Slabach and Joseph Carrington tell about activities students will participate in during National FFA Week.

Also, HCHS Principal Randolph and HCHS instructor Jimmy Popek recognized the first place DECA Quiz Bowl winners including Jill Trickey, Casey Bartee, Deion Muse, Rebekah Slabach and Kenneth Brandon.

Popek also recognized Brandon who designed a poster for the local DECA chapter.

Superintendent Stapleton and Chairman Comer recognized all current school board members through the Virginia School Board Association (VSBA) and presented them with an award.

Stapleton and Comer also recognized this week as VSBA School Board Clerk Appreciation Week presenting Clerk Robin Mahan and alternate Amy Throckmorton with certificates for their work with the school board.

In other matters, Assistant Superintendent for Instruction Joe Griles recognized four schools for receiving the 2011 Virginia Index of Performance Awards.

“To qualify for the Governor’s Award for Educational Excellence, schools and school divisions must meet all state and federal achievement benchmarks for at least two consecutive years and achieve applicable excellence goals for elementary reading, enrollment in Algebra I by the eighth grade, enrollment in college-level courses, high school graduation, attainment of advanced diplomas, increased attainment of career and industry certifications and participation in the Virginia Preschool Initiative,” Griles said.

Cluster Springs Elementary received the Governor’s Award for Educational Excellence.

Scottsburg Elementary School received the Board of Education Excellence Award.

Sydnor Jennings Elementary and Meadville Elementary Schools each received the Board of Education Competence to Excellence Award.
Also Monday night, school board representative Long outlined the outlook for state funding for K-12 Public Education.

He informed board members the proposed new general fund resource indicates the governor’s budget for school funding at $395.9 million; Senate budget at $573.5 million; and the House budget at $503.8 million.

In other business Monday night, school board members voted to allow Deputy Superintendent Larry Clark to continue talking to local insurance companies about implementing a “Come Home Alive” program.

The request for this program came from Comer and The Transportation Safety Commission.

Clark said he had contacted 13 local insurance companies but had only heard back from two.

Board members also approved four ad hoc committees including the communication committee composed of Farson as chair and Hopkins; finance committee with Gasperini as chair and Long; personnel committee with Satterfield as chair and Potts; and school safety committee with Snead as chair and Comer.

According to the school board chairman, ad hoc committees will coordinate their meeting times with the committee chair reporting directly to the school board chairman any information deemed necessary for consideration by the school board.

Meetings of these ad hoc committees are to be scheduled through  the school board clerk with the school board chairman being notified of the time and location for the meeting.

Also during Monday night’s meeting, Director of Operations and Maintenance Larry Roller presented the maintenance report explaining Meadville, Scottsburg, Sinai and Cluster Springs Early Learning Center are the only schools left in the system with asbestos floor tiles.
The plan is to remove the remaining tiles by 2013 at an estimated cost of $185,000.

He also informed the board of the roof replacement under way at HCHS.

Roller said there is 82,500 square feet of roof left to replace at an estimated cost of $1,263,900.

Also, Chief Financial Officer Bill Covington presented the financial report and payment of bills, and board members approved the payment of the bills.

The school board’s next regular monthly meeting is scheduled for March 14.