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Halifax County High School error could unhinge district proposal

A proposal that could result in Halifax County High School being placed into a “neighborhood” combination Group AAA-Group AA district for athletic contests may possibly unravel as the result of an error in the reporting of the school’s enrollment. The Virginia High School League’s Redistricting and Reclassification Committee on Tuesday proposed the creation of a new Piedmont District that would include Halifax County High School, GW of Danville, and current Group AA Piedmont District schools Martinsville High School, Tunstall High School and Patrick County High School.

GW, which is currently a Group AAA school, has seen a decline in enrollment in recent years and will be dropped to Group AA status starting with the 2013 school year.

The VHSL committee also proposed creating a new Western Valley District that will include Franklin County High School of Rocky Mount, William Fleming High School and Patrick Henry High School of Roanoke and current Group AA Piedmont District schools Magna Vista High School and Bassett High School.

If the proposal passes muster from VHSL officials, the new district alignment will be beneficial to Halifax County High School in terms of cutting travel to athletic events and, as a result, enable student athletes to spend more time in the classroom.

However, unknown to members of the subcommittee, Halifax County High School’s enrollment was incorrectly listed at 1,383 students on the school enrollment sheet used by subcommittee members in their consideration of the proposed districts.

Halifax County High School Principal Albert Randolph said Wednesday the school currently has 1,702 students, but that the State Department of Education provided the erroneous number was listed on the enrollment sheet used by VHSL subcommittee members.

Virginia High School League officials have been contacted regarding the error, Randolph said.

“We want to make it perfectly clear that the Halifax County School Board provided an accurate (enrollment) number to the state (State Department of Education) and the Virginia High School League,” Randolph said.

“I have two reports indicating clearly that accurate numbers were provided to the state and also to the Virginia High School League.”

Randolph said Halifax County High School Athletic Director Allen Lawter attended Tuesday’s meeting in Charlottesville, and that when Lawter saw the school’s listed enrollment number he called back to the school to see if the number could be verified.

Lawter said yesterday he received an e-mail from Virginia High School League Information and Communications Specialist Mike McCall saying Virginia High School League officials are aware of the error.

“The DOE (Department of Education) has advised our office the September 30, 2011 Membership Figures provided earlier to the R&R Committee are incorrect,” McCall wrote in his message to Lawter.

“We will post the correct September 30, 2011 Membership Figures as soon as possible. In addition, the revised Initial Alignment Plan Redistricting and Reclassification Plan for 2013-14 and 2014-15 will be reposted.”

What will happen now is anybody’s guess.

“I don’t know where this (the proposed district alignment) is going to go because of the incorrect numbers,” Lawter said.

“We are unclear as to exactly what will happen now. There is a lot of process remaining with the R&R committee.”

Randolph said he is pleased that Virginia High School League officials have at least considered Halifax County High School’s long-standing plight with regard to lengthy travel distances to district athletic contests.

“We are pleased that the committee is considering this,” Randolph said of the proposed new district alignment.

“There has been great concern about travel for Halifax County High School for a number of years. Our ultimate goal is to provide our students with less travel and less time out of class.

“We would be pleased to do anything that we can do to accommodate our students,” added Randolph.

“We are pleased that some considerations are being given.”

The next scheduled Virginia High School League meeting to consider proposed district alignments for 2013-2014 and 2014-2015 is scheduled for February.