Local News

Funding Troubles For Halifax County School Puts Construction On Hold

Posted May 12, 2005 8:08 a.m. EDT

— Construction for a new school in Halifax County has hit a snag that has put it on hold indefinitely. The reason -- money.

The school system plans to combine Inborden Elementary School and Enfield Middle School into one campus, but the Halifax County Board of Commissioners said school officials have to shave off millions of dollars from the price tag.

Halifax County Commissioners balked when higher prices for construction materials skyrocketed the project's price from $17 million to nearly $24 million.

"That's a 35 percent increase, and we aren't willing to do it," Halifax County Commissioner Rivers Manning said.

Manning and other county commissioners want the architects to either lower their bids or cut some corners. But Halifax School Superintendent Pete Gilchrist said there are no corners left to cut.

"We've cut out some classrooms, cut out the band studio. We've cut the hallways down to the very minimum," he said.

Commissioners said they raised taxes for this project and appear unwilling to raise taxes again to meet higher costs.

"They say they want to build it cheaper, but prices are rising, and it's not going to get any cheaper," said Kitty Bryant, a teaching assistant at Inborden.

Built in 1946, Inborden makes a strong case for its own demolition. Teachers said students have to line up every day and go outside to reach the restrooms, cafeteria and gym.

"It's a time management piece where you put coats on, take coats off all day long," Gilchrist said.

Bryant said during the summer months, there is also a problem with snakes.

"No matter how hard we try, we can't keep them out of the building," Bryant said.

The Halifax County School Board and the county commissioners will meet next Tuesday to try to resolve the funding issue.