Halifax County School Board received its first look at the proposed fiscal year 2022 budget at its Monday evening meeting that included a 2% bonus on base pay for all employees.
Finance director Robert Aylor told the board state revenues had increased by $269,370, and the governor’s budget included a 2% bonus for teachers.
To give teachers and non-teachers a 2% bonus on base pay, Aylor said that would cost $643,096. Therefore, he said they’re requesting an additional $373,726 in local revenue.
He pointed out that last year the school system received $14,000,000 from the Halifax County Board of Supervisors, $400,000 less than the year before.
Superintendent Dr. Mark Lineburg said last year they asked for flat funding, but after the school system had an increase in state revenue, supervisors decided to decrease local funding.
The superintendent also told the board they wouldn’t see any significant changes in this year’s budget.
“We’re trying to hold on to what we have,” said Lineburg, who also noted they should be receiving more COVID-19 money, but they had not received what that allocation would be and that would not go into the operating budget.
The school system’s proposed budget totals $62,495,475 with a possible $38,130,380 from the state and $14,373,726 in local funding.
The public will have a chance to share their thoughts on the upcoming budget at the board’s upcoming public input hearing and budget work session on Feb. 8. March 29 is the deadline for submission of budget to the board of supervisors.
ED-7 trustee Keith McDowell also addressed transportation director Dwight Elam to see what the latest information was on purchasing foggers for the bus and car drivers.
In December, Elam said they had ordered a couple foggers to see if they would be better to use rather than disinfectant bombs.
Elam told the board Monday they had tested out the foggers, liked them and were in contact with the company to get quotes for pricing.
But, McDowell feels like the foggers should have been taken care of.
“We have bus drivers running every day,” said McDowell. A total of 115 buses run throughout the week to deliver meals and packets of work.
The ED-7 trustee said drivers are coming into contact with 20 to 25 parents or students with each run and should be taken care.
But ED-5 trustee Freddie Edmunds spoke up saying, “Mr. Elam is doing what he’s supposed to do… I don’t see what the big problem is.”
Also last month the board approved hazard pay of $650 for all contacted employees, and teacher Beth Layne took the time to thank the board during citizens comments before going to explain what life is like for a teacher doing virtual learning.
She said this year has been the roughest year for her in her 39-year career.
“Every teaching experience is a learning experience, and this year I became the student,” said Layne.
Recently, she said her hairdresser asked her what it was like teaching virtual, and she told her hairdresser to imagine that someone cut off her right hand and sowed it where her left was suppose to be and vice versa then tried to cut hair.
During this school year, Layne said she has lost sleep and experienced stomach pain and tears.
“Every teacher I know is working longer and harder,” said Layne, who said she is a hands-on teacher.
But, the way she used to teach is now her “old world” that has been replaced with modules, emails, calls, texts, videos and Zoom meetings.
“I stay up until midnight and I rise before dawn. We teach because we love our students and subjects. We continue to struggle so we can meet our students behind the classroom door rather than behind a screen,” Layne concluded.