Partisan issues mark school board meeting

Moore County Board of Education held its regular meeting Monday evening.

Pauline Bruno, the head of the Moore Republican Women, presented what she said were 900 letters during the public comment period at the board meeting. The letters were to show “how much we despise Critical Race Theory,” according to Bruno.

At the end of her three-minute public address, board members David Hensley, Philip Holmes and Robert Levy rose to their feet to applaud. Normally, board members listen passively during the public comment period. 

Those that oppose the Critical Race Theory deny the existence of systemic racism in the United States. Critical Race Theory is a highly charged issue that has made its way into education by way of the new North Carolina social studies standards.

Earlier this year, the North Carolina Board of Education approved a revision to the social studies standards taught in all grade levels. The standards, set to go into effect beginning this fall, will add diversity and inclusion into the curriculum. It will include the perspective of marginalized groups, including African Americans.  

Fifteen percent of Moore County students are African American, according to the latest data on the school district’s website. 

“We despise Critical Race Theory,” Bruno said. “We refuse to allow this in our schools. You will not indoctrinate our children. You will not divide our babies.”

Eight out of the ten speakers Monday voiced their concern over the new social studies standards and what they see as liberal views taught in the classroom.

Questions Over Meeting Location

The board chose the historic county courthouse in Carthage as their meeting place Monday over holding it at a high school, as has been done previously, or via a virtual online meeting which has become customary due to concerns over coronavirus.

Citing social distancing requirements at the small venue, only 40 members of the public were allowed to attend. Comments on social media questioned why one of the three high schools, with larger capacity, was not used for the meeting.

The meeting was broadcast live on YouTube and made available for later viewing to the public which is standard practice for the school district.  At times, the poor sound system made listening to the meeting difficult.

$141 Million Proposed Budget

The board also unanimously approved a budget for next year of $141 million. Of that, the Moore County Commissioners will be asked to approve $32.5 million. The remainder is funded by state and federal sources. 

The local portion of the requested budget is $2.1 million more than the current budget. A large part of that is to cover classified staff salary increases.    

The school board budget will next go before the county commissioners on April 20. A public hearing is expected on June 15 before a final vote by the commissioners.

Sale of Former Southern Pines Elementary School Delayed

The sale of the land and buildings that once was the Southern Pines Elementary School will be delayed by 60 days. According to Executive Officer for Operations John Birath, the Town of Southern Pines requires a special use permit before the new owner, Moore Montessori, can operate a school on the site.

The sale is not expected to be completed until early July. Moore Montessori had previously agreed to purchase the property for $1.6 million.

Screenshot photo: Monday evening, Pauline Bruno, the head of the Moore Republican Women, presented letters about Critical Race Theory during the public comment period at the regular meeting of the Moore County Board of Education.

Sandhills_Sentinel~Written by Sandhills Sentinel Reporter John Patota.

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