Local News

Halifax Co. Schools Face $635K Budget Deficit

Posted September 20, 2007 6:21 p.m. EDT

— A declining student population and a steady number of staff members have created a $635,000 projected deficit – nearly a fifth of the total budget – for the Halifax County school system.

School Superintendent Geraldine Middleton recently asked the Halifax County Board of Commissioners for more than a $500,000 fund advance .

The commissioners gave about $280,000 that will come from the general taxpayer fund. They are also requesting the state audit the school system.

"The county commissioners were caught blind. We did not have any idea. We did not know," said county Commissioner J. Rives Manning Jr.

School administrators said they were also shocked.

"It's a very disappointing situation that we find ourselves in," school spokesman Keith Hoggard said.

To balance the budget by the end of the year, school officials are starting to cut community bus programs and will lay off 15 employees by the end of October.

Some say the previous administration headed for more than a decade by Dr. Willie Gilchrist, should have known this day would come. Middleton has been superintendent for a few months.

"They had to be aware that we were going to run into some budgetary problems," Hoggard said.

In a statement to WRAL, Gilchrist, now chancellor at Elizabeth State University, said "personnel costs are a huge percentage of most budgets. Those costs can be affected by various changes."