A subdued Moore County School Board of Education held their monthly meeting Monday evening. The absence of Bruce Cunningham, who passed away unexpectedly Friday, was keenly felt.
In opening comments, Board Chairman Helena Wallin-Miller stated that “seeing his empty seat is heartbreaking. He would have wanted us to continue to make our community a wonderful place to live. I am grateful to have known him, to have engaged with him and even to have disagreed with him at times. I am grateful to honor him by continuing his work.”
Moore County School Superintendent Dr. Bob Grimesey reported on the continuing response to the Pinecrest ACT scores debacle. Pinecrest High School announced in June they lost 440 students’ ACT scores. Juniors who took the test on Feb. 20 and March 13 will have to retake the exams.
The district is continuing to work with affected students and their families to minimize the effects and to ensure the students can retest in time to meet college application and scholarship requirements.
The district has established a ten-member team to review the incident and ensure this does not happen again. The team is evaluating all phases of the testing procedures and will also determine the feasibility of utilizing online testing for the ACT testing in the future.
The team will be led by Moore Schools Executive Officer for Academics and Student Support Services, Dr. Mike Metcalf. It is scheduled to provide an initial report at the August 5 school board work session, and the Pinecrest High School website will have updates.
Dr. Grimesey also reported on his decision to order a Phase 2 environmental study of the new Aberdeen Elementary School building site, on Highway 5, near two Superfund sites where pesticides were dumped for 50 years.
“I just want to make it clear from the start that my decision does not mean I harbor any concerns about the environmental quality of the Aberdeen school site,” said Grimesey. “Rather my decision to proceed with a Phase 2 assessment is based solely on persistent and unsubstantiated assertions by some critics that the school board and its administration has failed to ensure that the site’s groundwater and soil composition meet standards that are safe for our students and staff members.”
He then gave some background on how the decision was made to select the current Aberdeen site.
- The site was recommended by a study from a team out of N.C. University
- The site offered access to city infrastructure and would also allow efficient school bus routing.
- The property provided the most favorable cost.
- The school district was aware of the “unfortunate environmental legacy” of the area surrounding the site and also the very expensive cleanup efforts conducted on adjoining properties. property.
- A Phase 1 study was conducted and showed no cause for concern. An addendum to study was also conducted after questions were raised at a 2017 Board of Commissioners hearing. Again no issues were found.
- A Phase 2 Study costs around $25,000 and, in the school districts judgment, was not necessary.
Dr. Grimesey further explained his decision to order the phase 2 study. “In recent weeks, an online editorial, inappropriately couched as investigative journalism, was publicized by a political advocacy group that grossly misrepresented the actions and intentions of the school board and its administration related to the Aberdeen School site. We have also seen in recent weeks that those opposed to the Moore County Schools’ redistricting process used this topic as one of multiple wedges intended to erode the public trust in the school board and its administration by sowing confusion and doubt in the minds of some in our community.”
Building and Earth, the company that conducted the initial study will also be conducting the Phase 2 Assessment. The report should be ready by the September school board meeting, with a possibility, that it may be available earlier.
The board endorsed the actions with Ed Dennision stating “it is important that the Phase 2 assessment be done to give the public confidence in the safety of the site.”
Dr. Grimesey also invited those who are still concerned to produce their own reports and experts, at their cost, and to present it to the board.
The next meeting of the school board is August 5 for a work session with a regular business meeting scheduled for the August 12.
~Written by Sandhills Sentinel Local News/Government Reporter Chris Prentice.
Contact him at [email protected] or (910) 639-9303.
Feature photo: The new Aberdeen Elementary School being built on Highway 5 ~ Sandhills Sentinel.