The Moore County Board of Education passed the revised $182,384,786 budget at its regular meeting on April 17, for 2023-2024, with a $38,258,500 request for the county commissioners.
Superintendent Tim Locklair said the revised budget drives the board’s strategic plan for excellence in student outcomes.
The county request includes fixed cost increases, and Locklair said 85% of that is salaries.
The state regulates school staff salaries.
The county request covers additional resources to support the Community Learning Center at Pinckney, an additional assistant principal, school police salaries, an IEP coordinator, bus driver pay, operations at $34,000,500, and $3,458,000 for charter schools. This request includes $34,000,500 for MCS operations and $800,000 for capital outlay.
In other business, the board passed the new reading requirements for promotions to rising grades, Policy 5525, which reads:
Commencing in Grade 2 and ending in Grade 10, during the time covered by each report card (approximately 9 weeks), each and every student must read an age-appropriate physical book in the English Language and submit a handwritten book report to the student’s English Language Arts/English teacher summarizing the content of the book. Each book report shall be due prior to the issuance of any report card. If a timely book report is not delivered to a teacher prior to the report card being issued, the report card shall carry the statement “student has not completed reading requirements. Contact teacher immediately.” This statement may be in the language of the student’s household.
“This will shrink the gap,” Chair Robert Levy said. “Roughly half of our students are not reading on grade level. This policy is aimed at students in the middle and below.”
The vote for Policy 5525 had four in support and three opposers.
Member Shannon Davis voted against the reading requirement and said she did not support the policy as it was written but liked the idea. She said the policy placed too much pressure on teachers.
Vice Chair David Hensley voted against the reading requirement policy.
“Starting with Dr. Locklair and down to our newest principal, MCS now has the right team of administrators, with the right focus, tools and approach, such as our return to phonics, to significantly improve our students’ ability to read. I believe we need to give Dr. Locklair and his team an academic year to see the results of their aggressive combination of a return to fundamentals coupled with modern techniques and tools, before adding additional requirements,” Hensley said in an email to Sandhills Sentinel.
At the April 10 meeting, Stacy Caldwell said that book reports were old age and voted against the policy.
The board also passed Policy 5416 Parents’ Bill of Rights regarding transgender students.
The revision states that parents, not the state, have the power to decide on preferred pronouns and nicknames, and whether a child receives social transitioning or gender counseling for incongruent biological sex identity conditions. Parents must be notified in writing of any formal or informal changes to names or pronouns used by the staff or the child.
Levy said that parents had a right to raise children how they saw fit, and that included dealing with incongruent biological sex identity conditions and faith.
Caldwell voted against Policy 5416.
During the board discussion, audience members called out statements and were told they should not interrupt the meeting and were eventually asked to go outside.
“We are targeting the LGBTQ community,” Caldwell said after she said her nephew, now 22, was transgender and, at 16, used a school counselor for “support” when telling his mother about his situation.
The revised policies may be read here.
“We don’t have secrets in our schools because it is parents’ right to know how their child is doing in school,” Levy said.
Policy 5416 was amended. The words, “or by a student,” were removed from, “Prior to any changes in the name or pronoun used for or by a student in school records or by school personnel, or by the student and whether the change is formal, informal, official or unofficial.”
Caldwell was the only opposing vote.
The board passed Policy 3265/4265 Naloxone in the School Setting.
The district’s school nurse manager had recommended the new policy to keep naloxone on campuses, as required by the state, to help prevent fentanyl overdose deaths while waiting for emergency health care workers.
The board unanimously passed Policy 2008/4008/8308 Drug and Alcohol Testing of Commercial Motor Vehicle Operators, Policy 6000 Attendance, and Policy 7550 Naming Facilities without discussion.
~Written by Sandhills Sentinel Journalist Stephanie M. Sellers. Contact her at [email protected]
Photo by Sandhills Sentinel Photographer Melissa Schaub.