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Superintendent June Atkinson spoke about the State Board of Education‘s decision to increase its intervention in Halifax County at today’s North Carolina Chamber conference on education. 

Earlier this week, the Board sent the Halifax Board of Education a letter that listed directives the Halifax Board must follow, including pre-approval by the state of hiring decisions and a requirement that the Halifax Board send the state its budget for review. 

During a break in the Chamber event, Atkinson commented to reporters on the Board’s reasoning. 

“First of all, it’s unfortunate that the state had to intervene in Halifax County. We have been there since 2009. We have seen our teachers and principals make tremendous progress. And as we look toward the future, the State Board of Education felt that if we did not intervene in personnel decisions and financial decisions, we would have made four steps forward, and then we would make five steps backward. And we want that not to happen. And so consequently the decision was made that we work with Halifax County to ensure, even under uncertain financial times, that they would have dollars to make it to the end of the year.”

“And we want to make sure that our teachers in Halifax County and our principals in Halifax County are not pulled in different directions by one more board member saying this to a teacher and a principal: ‘You must do that.'”

“There has been a lack of differentiation of board members taking over roles that should be the superintendent in that county. And so consequently we want to make sure that our teachers don’t feel threatened about a job or our principals don’t feel threatened about a job.”

“We want to make Halifax County work for every single child in that county.”

She said the following in response to a question asking how a county like Halifax can recruit teachers when it is mired in publicity. 

“That’s one of the reasons why we decided that it was important for us to take the steps that are necessary to hire personnel. We want to give the teachers in Halifax County some sense of assurance that we are there to take away all of the noise that adults make where they can concentrate on educating every child.” 

Go here to see EdNC’s article on how to better understand the Halifax Board of Education.

Here is the audio of Superintendent Atkinson. 

Alex Granados

Alex Granados is senior reporter for EducationNC.