School boards secure merger study funding

August 26, 2004

Bulletin Staff Writer

A private foundation has provided $10,000 to secure funding for further study of a potential Henry County/Martinsville school merger.

The Lucy P. Sale Foundation contributed $10,000 to cover the two school systems' contributions to that study, according to Kim Adkins, president of the Martinsville-Henry County Chamber of Commerce.

On Tuesday, The Harvest Foundation announced it would grant $20,000 for the study if both the county and city also contribute $5,000. The school boards had asked for an amount not to exceed $30,000, and said they did not intend to spend their own money on the study.

The Sale foundation money was raised to meet The Harvest Foundation challenge with help from Martinsville School Board Chairman Jim Johnson and Henry County School Board Chairman Curtis Millner, Adkins added.

The late Lucy Pannill Sale was the oldest daughter of the area's textile industry founder, William Letcher Pannill. She was a benefactor to charitable organizations throughout the area before her death in 2003 at the age of 94.

Her foundation, Adkins said, funds many educational initiatives and scholarships.

At a joint meeting on Tuesday, both school boards agreed to form a steering committee consisting of all board members from each board and then form three subcommittees to tackle three main issues: finance, school board makeup, and salary and benefits.

Johnson said the two school boards had asked the Martinsville-Henry County Chamber of Commerce and the Chamber's Partnership for Economic Growth (C-PEG) to raise the $30,000 cost of that work. The Harvest Foundation grant was made to C-PEG.

"The goal is not to have any public school funds go to this study, the same way the original study was done. The schools are contributing their time and manpower," he said.

The major portion of the $30,000 will go to the facilitator that the boards are planning to hire to oversee the study, Johnson said, although an exact spending breakdown for the funds has not been determined.

On Sept. 9, Johnson and Millner will meet with Dempsey Worner, who was a consultant on the subcommittee that studied the merger concept over the last two years, to discuss the facilitator position.

Worner has participated in two studies of the area's school systems and his body of knowledge would be a great resource for the three subcommittees, Johnson said.

"He won't be telling them what to do," Johnson said. "There's enough manpower in this community to do the necessary work to get the answers we need. He'll organize the effort" and use his expertise to help the subcommittees find the information they are looking for.


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