School Board approves improvement plans—with limits

The Moore County Board of Education approved the recommended 2022-2024 school improvement plans, with limits, at its Dec. 7 work session meeting.

A first motion made by Vice-Chair David Hensley to pass on the condition that three failing elementary schools provide progress reports by April 2023 ended in a tie.

Hensley presented the second motion, to pass the plans on the condition that D-rated Southern Pines Elementary School, F-Rated Aberdeen Elementary School, and F-rated Robbins Elementary School’s plans are limited to six months, which is until June 7, 2023. This motion passed with five members for and member Stacey Caldwell against.

School ratings are based on performance tests conducted through the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction.

Superintendent Tim Locklair said he supported the plans, and that they had worked closely with school teams and trusted their plans, but they will be monitored.

“It is unacceptable to have F-rated schools,” Locklair said.

Half of the district’s schools present improvement plans for review and approval on a two-year renewal cycle. School teams presented 12 improvement plans at the November 2022 meeting and may be viewed in full here.

The elementary schools were Aberdeen, Cameron, Carthage, Highfalls, Robbins, Southern Pines, Westmoore and Pinehurst. The middle schools were Southern, Elise, and West Pine. The high school was Pinecrest.

The Board passed a motion to publish letters and editorials in a marketing campaign to advertise a proposal on changing the school calendar.

The school calendar is ruled by the state. The calendar does not sync with college calendars and does not accommodate long Christmas breaks.

The Board said it wants to shorten the year, start earlier, and have the semester break before Christmas.

The Board seeks to amend North Carolina’s School Calendar Law, N.C. Gen. Stat. § 115C-84.2 to allow autonomy for school boards to create their own calendars.

Read a copy of the letter on changing the school year here.

The Board discussed how to honor high academic achievers.

In 2015, the North Carolina State Board of Education Policy GRAD-009 changed to a 10-point grading scale. This removed the delineation of points, making it harder to spotlight the highest achievers.

“I am shocked and appalled that academia has thrown it [honoring valedictorians and salutatorians] for the sake of equity,” Hensley said about competition inspiring others to work harder. “Their names need to be immortalized … not teachers and principals of the year.”

A weighted GPA system was proposed, and for a tie-breaker vote, SAT grades would be used.

Hensley will present a motion at the next meeting to reinstate honoring valedictorians and salutatorians.

The Board reviewed the Parent’s Bill of Rights document.

Levy said the document will be referred to the policy committee, and they will amend it and represent for further consideration and possible approval.

Board Attorney Richard Schwartz said House Bill 755 had a lot of enabling conversation that needed to be tweaked.

During an update on school safety, Locklair said they would take every step to impose the most significant criminal prosecution to threats.

Threats have increased, and according to Dr. Mike Metcalf, chief officer for academics and student support services, youngsters playing violent games plays out at school. Students, even in elementary school, threaten, “I’m going to get you.”

School behavior policies may be read by clicking on the blue links in this document.

Locklair led a discussion and review on the Capital Projects Update. Because of inflation, the Board said it would attract more bidders to combine the $8,540,987 in gym renovations at the three elementary schools, Cameron, Highfalls, and Westmoore.

Photo: The new Moore County Board of Education and Chair and Vice Chair. Left to right, Stacey Caldwell, Pauline Bruno (newly elected), Shannon Davis (newly elected), Vice Chair David Hensley, Chair Robert Levy, Ken Benway (newly elected) and Philip Holmes. Photo courtesy of Moore County Schools.

~Written by Sandhills Sentinel Journalist Stephanie M. Sellers. Contact her at [email protected].

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