Tuesday, 06 February 2018 05:35

In charting new course, county school system discusses needs

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Halifax County School Board members and commissioners were the first Monday afternoon to begin discussions designed to update school capital plans.

Meetings between commissioners and the two other school systems in the county have been set as well.

“Our goal is to work together,” County Manager Tony Brown told the school board at the close of the meeting. “We’re now meeting with all three school systems to help get an understanding. We have to go the extra mile to know what the needs are in all three (school systems).”

Board of Education member Susie Lynch-Evans told commissioners the school system has put together a solid plan for the future and then asked the county’s governing board what ideas they had for future school improvements.

“How much money are you willing to increase taxes by?” Commissioner Rives Manning asked.

Responded Lynch-Evans: “We have to pay whatever’s necessary. I think our children in Halifax County deserve a shining building. They’re worth as much as any other child in Halifax County.”

Brown told Lynch-Evans, “We have weekly sessions to figure out the direction we need to go.”

Board of education Chair Claude Cooper said, “Every child in Halifax County deserves better than what I had and what you had.”

The meeting gave commissioners an idea of the direction the school system is headed under the leadership of Superintendent Eric Cunningham.

“We are passionate about living within our means,” Cunningham told the joint boards.

He said the school system has clean audits on the federal, state and local levels. “They’ve had no findings. We have internal controls.”

The value of buildings within the school system is $108,987,703 with an average age of 36 years.

Pittman Elementary is the oldest school, built in 1959. “It has served us very well,” the superintendent said.

In his review of capital needs within the school system, Cunningham explained Aurelian Springs Elementary, built in 1990, needs to replace its chiller system and sewage system.

A new chiller system, the superintendent said, would pay for itself over 10 years.

Hollister Elementary, he said, needs electrical service upgrades and the school’s foundation is beginning to fail.

Enfield Middle-Inborden Elementary is the newest school, completed in 2007. Its needs are grading, painting and athletic field improvements.

Northwest High School needs heating and cooling improvements, athletic field improvements and landscaping. The school system has already spent $164,000 on a new roof.

Pittman needs heating and cooling upgrades, roofing, sewer upgrades, painting, new windows and the foundation needs to be addressed.

Scotland Neck Primary needs parking lot improvements and heating and cooling upgrades. Cunningham said he would like to do away with mobile units. “I’d like to bring the kids all inside.”

Southeast Halifax is to be the future home of the system’s early college program. It needs roofing, parking lot upgrades, heating and air improvements and athletic field improvements.

Everetts Elementary-William R. Davie Middle needs heating and air work, a bus canopy and playground upgrades. “It has good bones,” Cunningham said. “We need to tweak the heating and air.”

The central office needs to be remodeled, the superintendent said.

In all, the school system has some $11,745,334 in big ticket needs, Cunningham said. He said with the new focus on creating a global environment within the school system, “We believe we’re going to grow again.”

He said the school system is studying consolidating Hollister and Pittman elementary schools.

The next meeting will be with the Roanoke Rapids school board at 6 p.m. on February 20 at the media center of Manning Elementary School.

Commissioners plan to meet with Weldon City Schools on March 13.

Notice of the meetings come after commissioners decided earlier this month to begin talks about possibly upgrading the current school improvement plan.


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