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Vacation cap OK’d by school trustees

The cap has been set. After several discussions Halifax County School Board members unanimously approved a 30-day cap on vacation leave effective June 30 for vacation earning positions within the Halifax County Public School system.

 

They arrived at the decision Monday night during the board’s regular scheduled meeting held in the Halifax County High School cafeteria. 

Before carrying on business as usual, school board members, administration and the audience were treated to a Christmas presentation following Halifax County High School Principal Albert Randolph’s welcome.

SCA President Meg Bane told board members the high school has much to be proud of and introduced the chorus members who sang the National Anthem along with two Christmas songs.

Following a standing ovation, board members continued with business on the agenda.

Superintendent Dr. Merle Herndon asked board members to approve the draft proposal for vacation leave explaining the three different categories involved — employees who don’t have 30 days, those who are between 31-59 days, and those who have 60 days of vacation to take.

According to the superintendent, employees with 60 days of accumulated vacation leave as of July 24 will be paid at their per diem pay rate for a maximum of 60 days unused vacation leave upon retirement/resignation. The days include unused vacation leave from the prior year in addition to vacation leave earned for the current year. 

Employees with 31-59 vacation leave days will be capped at the number of days accumulated as of July 24 and can be paid for a maximum of that cap upon retirement/resignation.

In other business Monday, two citizens who had previously addressed trustees  at previous meetings brought additional concerns before the board.

Returning to the podium were Dave Strom and Steve Salley.

“I am very disappointed. After apparent progress towards openness, candor and responsiveness with your constituents, the door seems to have been slammed shut again,” said Strom.

“It bothers me that you’re apparently making, measuring and reporting expenditures against an unpublished phantom budget,” he added.

With only three minutes to address board members, Strom was asked to stop before he finished addressing his concerns.

Salley told board members of his desire to have citizen comments moved to the end of the meeting and restated his concerns about fuel costs that were addressed at November’s meeting by Director of Operations and Maintenance Larry Roller.

“There are businesses in the area that’ll get a fixed price for fuel,” said Salley.

After hearing Salley’s suggestion about moving citizen comments to the end of the meeting, board members are looking into changing the time when citizens give their comments. 

Farson suggested school board clerk Robin Mahan speak with the Halifax County Board of Supervisors clerk to see how the supervisors conduct their citizen comment portion of their meetings.

Halifax County High School Future Farmers of America President Ellen Crowder, Advisor Jonathan Chandler and Secretary Allison Rudder presented school board members with fruit baskets and poinsettias raised in the school’s greenhouse as a “token of gratitude” for the school’s continued support of FFA.

Herndon presented to school board Chairman Karen Hopkins the Virginia School Board Association Green Schools Challenge Award. Halifax County Public Schools were one of 32 school divisions awarded out of the 133 in the state. 

Under unfinished business, school board members decided to once again table a policy revision in reduction in professional staff work force until administration can address concerns of board members that the document lacks clarification.

The draft will be brought back in January for approval.

Prior to approval of minutes from the Nov. 12 meeting and the Dec. 6 work session, ED-8 trustee Walter Potts asked board members if any discussion about the Local Optional Retirement Plan took place at the work session.

ED-1 Trustee Phyllis Smith said she asked a question to Prismatic representative Tatia Prieto concerning why the Local Optional Retirement Plan was only briefly mentioned in the large study.

“I do not remember the discussion,” said ED-3 Trustee Kimberly Farson who stood in for Chairman Hopkins who was absent from the work session.

The minutes were approved 6-1, with Potts opposing.

Director of Finance Jay Camp requested board members approve “a change fund for alternative ed” adding it would basically be for students’ meals. Board members approved the establishment of a $25 petty cash fund and the continuance of the Virginia Public School Authority educational technology notes series XIII.

ED-6 Trustee Fay Satterfield asked that administrators have field trips approved before actually attending them.

“It is a policy. It’s just not being enforced,” said Potts.

“I’ll remind principals that field trips have to be planned and approved ahead of time,” said Herndon. 

After Camp presented the financial report and received permission for payment of bills, board members went into closed session to discuss student discipline and personnel.

When board members emerged, they unanimously approved sending one student to alternative education and one back to the IEP team for placement. 

The personnel report was approved 5-2 with Farson and Hopkins opposing.

ED-4 trustee Cheryl Terry was absent from Monday night’s meeting.