If it’s one thing that the Moore County Board of Education can agree on, it’s that all grade levels should go back to full-time in-person instruction. When that will happen is still up in the air.
In a Moore County Board of Education Work Session Monday, Chief Officer for Academics and Students Support Services, Dr. Tim Locklair, presented a plan to return grades 6-12 to normal, in-person classroom learning.
Students now attend in-person classes twice a week, while the other three days are virtual instruction.
Plans were put on hold later in the day as the North Carolina Senate and Governor Cooper could not reach a compromise on a measure that would have required all school districts across North Carolina to have full-time in-person classes.
Last month, the North Carolina Senate passed a bill that would have given a local option to return to normal face-to-face instruction and require the same for all special needs students.
Friday, Gov. Cooper vetoed the bill saying it did not follow social distancing guidelines set by the Centers for Disease Control and North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services. He also said he wants local school districts to be able to return distance learning if COVID-19 cases surge.
Then, just Monday after the school board meeting, the North Carolina Senate failed to override Gov. Cooper’s veto. The veto gave school administrators no clear path to reopening schools.
The move comes just after the easing of statewide restrictions on restaurants, other business and sporting events.
Whenever learning returns to all-classroom instruction, teachers will have already been vaccinated. Director for Support Services Dr. Seth Powers said in the meeting that all teachers and staff that want to be vaccinated will receive their first dose by the end of this week.
During the meeting, Marcy Cooper, Principal at Southern Middle School, gave a presentation to the board on how her school intends to increase academic achievement.
In June of 2020, the North Carolina State Board of Education granted Moore County Schools permission to designate three historically underperforming schools, Southern Middle School, Aberdeen Elementary and Robbins Elementary, as Restart Schools. The program allows them to operate under relaxed hiring and schedule regulations and thus run more like a charter school.
When asked by board member Robert Levy what changes would make the most impact, Cooper pointed to pre-kindergarten. Currently, only 12% of children below the age of five now attend the voluntary preschool program in Moore County, while the number is 64% across the state. according to Cooper.
Cooper also cited smaller class size as another measure that would improve academic achievement.
Proposed Classified Salary Scale
Board members also heard a proposal from Executive Officer for Human Resources Dr. Anita Alpenfels to provide an annual pay increase for classified employees.
Currently, employees that are not teachers receive a bonus on a graduated scale for each based on their years of service. The pay increases range from $500 to $1,000 annually. Funding for these pay supplements comes directly from local sources and not state funding.
Classified employees also receive a percentage pay increase according to how many years they have worked under the North Carolina system. Called, State Longevity, employees with 10 years of service earn 1.5% extra. That number caps off at 4.5% at 25 years.
Under the proposed Classified Salary Scale, employee salaries would increase by 1% each year.
If approved by the board of education, the salary scale would replace the local pay supplement. The State Longevity would remain unchanged.
~Written by Sandhills Sentinel Reporter John Patota.