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While each month in a school year has its highlights, May is one of the busiest. 

Sometimes it feels like every day has at least one — and sometimes more — special events. This week has been no exception, and it included three nights of celebrating our highest achieving students during our yearly Scholars Recognition ceremonies, five days of celebrating our amazing employees with Staff Appreciation Week, and one special afternoon celebrating our high school students who earned certificates and diplomas at Halifax Community College’s graduation. 

Our elementary schools participated in walk, bike, and roll to school day. 

Our middle school track and field team participated in the conference meet; our boys finished second, and our girls finished first. 

Our high school softball team won their second round playoff game and now advanced to host Tuesday night’s third round game. 

Our high school ladies’ soccer team won the Big East Conference Championships.

Our high school golf team finished third in regionals and now advanced to the state competition. Our Solar Superstars won the Spirit of KidWind Award at the KidWind Worlds competition in Minneapolis, MN. 

Our musical theater class presented Anything Goes on Thursday and Friday evenings. 

Also, Chris Rogers, Ethan Rogers, and Jeffrey Pittman from Halifax EMS came to speak to Mr. Clark’s Public Safety 1 class about career opportunities in EMS. 

Ethan Rogers and Jeffrey Pittman are RRHS graduates and former students in Mr.

Clark’s Public Safety class, and they received their EMT license through the RRHS EMT program. 

These events are such a big part of what makes Roanoke Rapids Graded School District such a wonderful place to work and learn!

Special congratulations go out to some of our scholars and athletes as well. 

This week, RRHS seniors Kalissa Williams and Darren Solomon signed to continue their academic and athletic careers in college. 

Kalissa will play softball at Guilford College, and Darren will play basketball at Chowan University. Also, RREC senior Jake Wynne was selected as a Boys 2 Men Educational Scholarship winner.

Nine Year Scholars from Roanoke Rapids High School and Roanoke Rapids Early College

I started the week at the Halifax County Board of Commissioners meeting, as they were discussing next year’s school district funding. 

Planning for the 2024-25 budget has been unusually challenging this year because the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction has not yet released student planning allotments. Halifax County Manager Dia Denton and her staff rely on those figures to determine each district’s share of the county’s total educational funding allotment. 

This year, we are excited to see an increase in the total amount, which will be $5,400,000. This $5.4 million is known as the Local Current Expense Allocation, and it is distributed to each school district based on the total number of students who are domiciled in that school district and attend either the school district or a charter school. 

These funds are the “local funds” that supplement state and federal funds and generally can be used for anything except facilities and operations expenses. 

This money follows students to charter schools, which means that the school district initially receives the money and sends it to the charter school for the students enrolled there. 

In light of NCDPI not releasing planning allotments, Halifax County staff asked each school district to report their current number of students and number of charter school students, which totals 6,993 students. 

As you can see in the chart in the gallery, when you combine the school district’s ADM (or total number of enrolled students) with the number of students living in the district who attend a charter school, Halifax County Schools has 45.46% of the total, Roanoke Rapids Graded School District has 41.28%, and Weldon City Schools has 13.26%. 

Consequently, the proportionate split of the $5.4 million is just over $772 per student.

During our budget planning meeting with Halifax County staff in March 2024, I shared a similar chart based on previous year’s funding allocations because I wanted to ask if they would consider making a change to the funding formulas they used for capital outlay allocations. 

As you know, capital outlay funds are used for facilities and operation expenses, such as utility bills, maintenance and repair costs, and other purchases like student desks. 

In North Carolina, each county has the responsibility of paying for these expenses for its traditional public school districts but not for its charter schools, so this money does not have to be shared.

Halifax County also provides each school district with an additional allocation of $200,000 for capital outlay needs, and this amount is referred to as Article 44 funding. 

In recent years, Halifax County has used the same percentages to split both the Local Current Expense Allocation and the Capital Outlay Allocation. I asked if they would use the actual student enrollment (ADM) percentages instead of the combined number of enrolled

students and charter school students, as the more students in the building, the more usage of facilities. 

As you can see in the chart, at 49.44%, Roanoke Rapids Graded School District has the lowest number of students enrolled in charter schools and the highest number of students enrolled in the district; Halifax County Schools has 38.69%; and Weldon City School has 11.87%.

During the meeting, I was excited to see the Halifax County Board of Commissioners vote unanimously to use the number of enrolled students (ADM only) to split the capital outlay allocation, which means that Roanoke Rapids Graded School District will get approximately $61,000 more than we would have gotten if students enrolled in charter schools were counted. Also, the Commissioners voted unanimously to approve the recommendations of Halifax County Schools and Weldon City Schools to keep their supplemental school tax rate consistent with what it was last year. 

The 2024-25 school year will be a difficult one for all school districts as the federal COVID-19 supplemental funding is ending, so the supplemental tax dollars are even more important to ensure that each district can continue to support local supplements for teachers as well as other locally supported needs.

Lastly, we have our Board Committee meetings on Tuesday night. The Policy Committee and Finance and Personnel Committee will meet at 6 PM in Building A. The Curriculum Committee will meet at 7 PM in Building A, and the Facilities and Safety Committee will meet at 7 PM in the boardroom. 

Everyone is welcome to attend these meetings.