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Governor’s School fate to be decided at meeting

After months of discussion, Halifax County High School students will find out Monday night whether they will have the opportunity to participate in Governor’s School next year. 

The Halifax County School Board plans to make a decision on the matter during their meeting Monday evening at 6 in the Halifax County Middle School cafeteria. 

The possibility of rejoining Governor’s School has been under discussion since January, but with budget issues on their mind, the board has held off making any decision. 

During last month’s school board meeting, two members, ED-8 trustee Walter Potts and ED-4 school board member Cheryl Terry, spoke against rejoining Governor’s School stating the board simply did not have the money. 

“I do not even know why we are even entertaining the idea when we are currently having budget issues with our teachers,” Potts said. “I’ve had teachers talk to me about the trouble they have with copying papers for their students because paper is being rationed out.” 

Terry said, “Being that I will not be able to attend the next meeting, I want to share my opinion as well. I would love to see us participate in Governor’s School. Unfortunately, we do not have the money. When we are facing challenges with our current budget, and we are looking at spending around $1,800 for a handful of students, that concerns me.”

Terry added, “I don’t want us to start something that we cannot continue.” 

“The money we have is just getting us through now,” Potts added.

If the board were to rejoin Governor’s School, the enrollment fee for each student for the STEM Governor’s School would be $1,839.50, for the Humanities Governor’s School it would cost $4,651.84, and the new respiratory therapy option would cost similar to the STEM strand. 

The board also would face transportation costs of approximately $27,090 including the cost for the bus and the driver. 

Representatives from the Keysville school would come to the high school to begin recruitment for their program, and students who express interest would be tested to see if they would be accepted. 

In other unfinished business tonight, Chairman Kim Farson is scheduled to present an edited version of the citizen comments guidelines for the board to vote on.   

“The guidelines have the same platform as the board of supervisors,” Farson said. “We have just tweaked them to match our guidelines. We would include these on our screen to be displayed for everyone just to have a clear guideline on citizen comment.” 

During last month’s meeting, Potts opposed the guidelines because they did not include any information on citizens not being able to speak about personnel. 

After reading a statement provided by their lawyer on why citizens are not able to speak on private matters in public and the difference between public and private matters, Farson suggested the board attach the statement to the guidelines. 

Under new business Monday night, Assistant Superintendent Valdivia Marshall is slated to speak about a critical need area, the policy GCBF sick leave and the possibility of setting a pre-Labor Day opening of school.  

The Code of Virginia allows for each school board to set the school calendar so the first day students are required to attend school will be after Labor Day. The Board of Education may waive this requirement based on a school board self-certifying that it meets one of the “good cause” requirements. 

Financial Director Jay Camp plans to speak on requests for proposals for professional engineering services at the high school and the Virginia local disability plan provider acceptance. 

Camp also is expected to offer a financial report and seek payment of bills and use of facilities. 

Farson is slated to give a report on the next meeting that will be a joint meeting with the board of supervisors on Dec. 12 at 8:30 a.m. at the school board office conference room. 

Superintendent Dr. Merle Herndon also is scheduled to give a report on division goals, and then she plans to share with school board members who won the Virginia School Board Association Green Schools Challenge Award as well as recognize students’ artwork. 

On Nov. 21 the Virginia School Board Association announced 38 school divisions certified as green school divisions with Halifax County Public Schools receiving green certification. 

The high school’s FFA also plans to make a presentation to the board, and Dr. Virginia Jones is scheduled to make a Halifax County Middle School math presentation.  

Prior to adjourning, board members are expected to go into closed session to discuss personnel and student discipline.