With expecting close to $2 million in savings due to being out of school since March, Halifax County School Board is hoping to move forward with several capital improvement projects while school is out for the summer.
Some Halifax County Board of Supervisors are on board so far with their finance committee agreeing to recommend to the full board the OK for the school board to use up to $931,700 to begin work at several local schools.
They came to that decision at a finance committee meeting held Wednesday afternoon. Superintendent Dr. Mark Lineburg, Steve Brumfield, maintenance director, school board chairman Todd Moser and vice-chairman Sandra Garner-Coleman also attended the meeting.
Supervisors plan to take up the matter at their June 15 meeting. The board normally meets the first Monday of the month, but decided to postpone.
As county administrator Scott Simpson explained to the finance committee, the school is anticipating to have this money leftover after not being in session since March, and rather than waiting for their audit later in the year, they’d like to get a jump start on maintenance.
The finance committee is comprised of ED-2 supervisor Jeff Francisco, ED-1 supervisor Ricky Short, ED-7 supervisor Garland Ricketts and ED-6 supervisor Stanley Brandon.
“They’re requesting to utilize the funds rather than delay,” said Simpson.
Finance director Stephanie Jackson reminded the committee that the projects the school would like to complete do qualify as CIP, and per their policy, after the audit, any money remaining in the school budget would revert back to the school’s capital improvement fund anyway.
Superintendent Dr. Mark Lineburg also explained he did not want to put it into the operating budget, because then he would have to account for the funds in the next budget, which they may not have.
“We can’t put it in the operating budget. This is one-time money,” said Lineburg.
Looking to go ahead and use that money, the school system is turning to their capital improvement plan the school board approved in February.
The plan was made to summarize needs, provide an annual maintenance schedule and provide a list of long-term projects for their seven elementary schools, middle school, high school, early learning center, STEM center, facilities maintenance shop, transportation/bus shop, media center, athletic stadiums/field houses and the Moorefield family farm, totalling just over 1 million square feet of building space on 486 acres.
The CIP also prioritizes items to be addressed including replacing the PA system at Halifax County Middle School, replace fire panels at all elementary schools, which are obsolete, begin replacement of “white fleet” of work vans and trucks, HVAC replacement at elementary schools, begin painting schedule, renovate athletic fields at Cluster Springs and South Boston elementary schools and continue curtain replacement schedule.
Steve Brumfield, maintenance director for the school system, explained to the supervisor’s finance committee they hope to go ahead and tackle items such as an upgrade to the HVAC at Sydnor Jennings Elementary School.
He explained they plan to remove the air conditioner window units and the heat wall units, and replace the air conditioner window units with a more energy efficient system that would handle heat and air.
The maintenance director explained that would also help save money with utility cost savings, and Lineburg said doing these projects would give jobs to local contractors and others.
The school system also would like to leave some money in reserves.
“We’d like to carry over some for potential shortfalls,” Lineburg explained.
Short and Brandon questioned the school system about sticking to the items on their list of maintenance items presented to the committee Wednesday.
School board vice-chairman Sandra Garner-Coleman reminded the committee that it was up to the school board to choose from their capital improvement plan.
But, Brandon said if they deviate from the list provided Wednesday, he feels like it needs to be discussed with supervisors so they know what they’re committing to.
He also said he would want the school system to go ahead and use the funds and not carry over the funding to the next fiscal year.
“It creates a task to track funding,” said Brandon.
Simpson agreed saying, “I don’t think it should cross over to another fiscal year. I don’t want to continue to track this for multiple years. The hard part is it can’t be used for operations.”
Garner-Coleman also reminded the board that she’s a woman of integrity.
“I’m not going to deceive anybody,” she added before saying she wants the school board and supervisors to be on the same page and for all to be involved.
Brandon responded saying, “I don’t want to micromanage…I’m only being cautious.
“You have to succeed in order for us to succeed.”