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Search to begin for new superintendent in Halifax County

Halifax County School Board members will hold a special meeting on Thursday at 6 p.m. in the School Board Office Conference Room in Halifax as they start the search for a new school superintendent. Superintendent of Schools Paul Stapleton will retire at the end of June.

During the Thursday night meeting, school board members are expected to discuss search services offered by the Virginia School Board Association and identify firms to help locate possible candidates for the superintendent’s position.

Also as part of the discussion Thursday evening, school board members are expected to discuss in more detail the retirement incentive package to be offered in the upcoming fiscal year.

School board members set the special called meeting following discussions at last week’s regular monthly meeting regarding approval of a contract with the state school board association.

At that meeting, school board members were informed they must approve a contract with the Virginia School Board Association before a Virginia School Board Association representative meets with them to discuss the search for a new superintendent.

When ED-6 School Board representative Fay Satterfield offered a motion last week to set a date to discuss with Virginia School Board Association procedures for the upcoming superintendent search, ED-8 trustee Walter Potts pointed out it will cost Halifax County Public Schools $10,000 to $12,000 for the state school board association to conduct the search.

Potts, who objected to spending that much money for the Virginia School Board Association to do the search, said school board members have multiple options including performing the search themselves as a board.

“We have a lot of work to do, and this is one of the most important tasks as a board to complete,” ED-5 School Board member Roger Long said.

After more discussion last week, school board members scheduled a Tuesday, Jan. 24, meeting with the state school board association representative to open discussions on the search for a superintendent replacement.

ED-2 School Board member and Chairman Karen Hopkins said she will be unable to attend that meeting due to a work conflict. She and Potts opposed meeting on Jan. 24.

However, Long said he believes searching and finding a new school superintendent is one of the most important things this school board will accomplish during its tenure.

ED-1 School Board member Phyllis DeJarnette agreed urging the board to start work on the search immediately.

Should school board members arrive at an agreement with the state school board association on Thursday, the board is set to meet again in special session at 11 a.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 24, with the Virginia School Board Association superintendent search team representative.

Also to be discussed at Thursday’s meeting is an incentive package to be offered to early school retirees in the coming year.

Chief Financial Officer Bill Covington has suggested the same proposed retirement incentive package offered last year be given to school employees retiring at the end of their current contracts.

Two proposed incentives offered in addition to current school board retirement policies include modifying reimbursement for sick leave to increase from $25 to $50 for 1 to 50 days of sick leave accumulated and for sick leave days above 50, reimbursement would increase from $50 to $100 for each day.

The second incentive would allow qualifying retirees to receive the employer’s share of health insurance until they reach 65.

Financially, it has proven to be a cost savings to offer incentives to employees eligible for retirement who are paid at a higher rate than those recently hired, Covington said.

Because the retirement incentives process begins next month, Covington urged school board members to decide on what incentives will be offered as soon as possible.