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School board to talk money at Monday meeting

Halifax County School Board members are expected to hold a budget work session tonight to finalize the proposed $56 million school budget as recommended by county staff when they meet at 6 p.m. in the Mary Bethune office complex in Halifax.

Board members also are expected to vote tonight during a special called meeting on whether to implement salary adjustments for some employees.

At the March 11 school board meeting, trustees voted to authorize Executive Director for Administration Valdivia Marshall and Director of Finance Jay Camp to discuss proposed salary adjustments with affected employees before bringing back their recommendations to the board for a final vote tonight. 

The motion passed 4-2-1 with ED-2 trustee Karen Hopkins and ED-8 trustee Walter Potts opposing and ED-4 trustee Cheryl Terry abstaining. Chairman Kim Farson was absent from the meeting.

For the past two weeks, the pair of school officials has traveled from school to school meeting with a number of Halifax County School System employees who were informed about proposed adjustments to their salaries being made in the upcoming contract year.

Some were notified they may receive increases in pay, while others were told of impending cuts to their salaries.

Those affected employees were selected based on inconsistencies in their salaries, Superintendent Dr. Merle Herndon said last week.

“We sent an email out to everyone explaining that,” she added.

The superintendent confirmed the meetings that were held between employees and Marshall and Camp were solely to discuss salary adjustments and were informational only.

The meetings began March 12 and continued through Friday.

The superintendent would not comment last week whether the slashing of salaries was to benefit the proposed school budget’s bottom line.

The superintendent refused to comment on how school board members or administrators developed the method for deciding which employees’ salaries would be reduced or increased.

According to Herndon, she could not make “any comment because it hadn’t been voted on” and wouldn’t be voted on until tonight’s board meeting.

Last week Charlotte County School Superintendent Dr. Melody Hackney said Charlotte County’s school system would cut employees’ salaries only as “an absolute last resort.

“I’ll do everything in my power not to hurt current employees,” she added.

As part of tonight’s meeting, trustees are expected to finalize the school budget.

Discussion is expected to include the Halifax County Board of Supervisors’ Finance Committee’s recommendation for the full board to contribute $600,000 above current year funding to the county school budget making the county’s contribution $13,506,000.

That action is expected to be voted on at the supervisors’ April 1 meeting.

Earlier staff had recommended total county funding of $13,267,529 for the schools compared to the school board’s original request for $16,630,336.

The school’s finance committee is expected to meet earlier today to further discuss its budget-balancing options.

Also slated for discussion tonight is health insurance premiums following a presentation by consultant Patsy Akridge of Akridge Insurance and Financial.

At the conclusion of tonight’s meeting, school board members are expected to go behind closed doors to discuss personnel.