Halifax, N.C. — Two Halifax County high school students spoke to county commissioners Monday in support of merging the county's three school districts, a move they say would improve education for all students.
Halifax County is broken into three different school districts – Halifax County Schools, Roanoke Rapids Graded School District and Weldon City Schools. Commissioner Rives Manning said all three school districts get the same amount of per-student county funding, but that Weldon and Roanoke Rapids each have a supplemental school tax.
But voters in the Halifax County school district voted down a property tax increase that would provide additional school funding.
Northwest Halifax High School students Trequan McGee and Asiah Joyner said the funding disparities unfairly stifle educational opportunities for the Halifax County district's students.
"We hope that you will make decisions that will best affect all the students of Halifax County," Joyner told commissioners Monday.
Rebecca Copeland, chair of the Coalition for Education and Economic Security, said having three different school districts is not good for the county.
"Until we reform our education system here in Halifax County, we stand no real opportunity for economic development and growth," Copeland said.
Manning said he doesn't support the merger.
"What they are asking us to do is to override a vote of the people, and I'm not going to do that," he said.
The board as a whole is split on the issue, while superintendents of the Roanoke Rapids Graded School District and Weldon City Schools oppose it. They say it will lead to a cut in state funding.
Joyner said something needs to be done.
"I've never had a locker at Northwest," she said. "(I want commissioners to) at least address the issue and not act like it's a problem that they don't see or they can't fix."
The Board of Commissioners does not manage how the three school districts spend their money, Manning said.