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School finance committee narrows budget gap to $2M

The school budget gap is narrowing as members of the Halifax County School Board Finance Committee met Monday and closed what was a $3 million deficit to $2 million.

Although members of the news media were asked not to attend Monday’s finance committee meeting, afterward Superintendent Dr. Merle Herndon confirmed committee members trimmed $1 million from the school board’s items of consideration as they “continue to refine” the $3 million they earlier had requested.

Included in the cuts were school resource officers and security equipment.

Two board members, ED-7 trustee R. K. “Dick” Stoneman and ED-5 trustee Roger Long, along with central office staff comprise the finance committee that met for budget discussions Monday as they sought ways to balance the budget.

Attempts to contact Stoneman and Long were unsuccessful Tuesday.

The superintendent said the finance committee has reached the point where they are being forced to consider cutting positions of school employees.

“In moving forward with a budget, there’s no other way of talking about it than salaries…cutting positions,” Herndon said Tuesday.

Still under consideration is the 2 percent raise for instructional personnel as proposed by Gov. Bob McDonnell. 

If the state funds $455,000 for Standard of Quality position raises, Herndon said, the locality would have to match $231,000.

However, if the county can’t afford to fund the local match of $231,000, school board members won’t accept the state share, she said.

If the school system were to seek an additional 1 percent raise for all instructional positions, it would cost an additional $343,000 in local monies, according to Herndon.

Earlier this month, supervisors serving on the county finance committee got a preliminary look at the proposed school budget that totals $60,271,863, up from the current year’s budget of $57,116,384.

Of the $60 million, the schools are seeking $16,630,336 in local funding from the board of supervisors, up $3,724,336 from the $12,906,000 funded in the current budget.

The school board will hold a budget work session Thursday at 6 p.m. in the school board conference room at which time Herndon is slated to present the full board with a projected budget draft.

Herndon has informed the media it will be allowed to attend the next finance committee meeting on March 11 at 9 a.m.