School Board plans vocational early college at SCC

The Moore County Board of Education reviewed the Moore County Schools Innovative Cooperative High School (early college) presentation at the Jan. 9 work session. The goal is to open early college at the Sandhills Community College (SCC) in the fall of 2025.

Early college is the common term for learning at university and community college campuses in cooperation with a public high school. Students attend tuition-free with access to free tutors and receive high school diplomas and college credits.

“Early college at Sandhills Community College will serve area workforce needs…Toyota…the USGA…vocational,” Superintendent Tim Locklair said about Moore County being awarded $25 million from the state in September 2023.

Early college focuses on first-generation students, students at risk for dropping out, and other students historically underrepresented in higher education.

The board is forming teams to meet application deadlines, cover documentation, conduct site visits, calculate business needs, profile prospective students and to design courses.

“What are the restrictions on the twenty-five million?” board member David Hensley asked.

Locklair said the funds are for capital at SCC, buildings, and equipment.

Hensley said SCC had stagnant enrollment and too many unused buildings, and the board needed to have a study on SCC’s facility utilization.

“Then use funds for equipment will go twice as far,” Hensley said.

“Twenty-five million will not build a building,” Chair Robert Levy said, but added that it would renovate a building.

Learn more about Moore County’s early college plans here.

During the board committee reports and updates, Vice Chair Shannon Davis said she would not continue to seek uniforms as the dress code. She said there were over 5,000 responses to the survey, with 25% of parents in support, and only 4% of students supporting uniforms.

Under pending action, the board reviewed the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction Restart School Application for low-performing schools.

Elise Middle School joined the list of low-performing schools with Southern Middle School and Robbins and Aberdeen Elementary schools.

Principal Ashley Priest requested Elise Middle School apply as a restart school. It has had a D school-performance grade since the 2021-2022 year.

Restart certification allows operations as a charter school with the direction of the school board. It allows flexibility in hiring, with at least 50% of teachers having licenses and in awarding hiring bonuses.

“I don’t see anything in your restart plans on the ESL problem,” Levy said about 60% of students having English as a second language (ESL).

Priest said different ESL strategies were in the school’s program already, but they could look at new strategies.

Levy said he was not a big fan of the Spanish immersion program, but the school could borrow Robbins Elementary School teachers, which has the same ESL stats.

Levy said instead of hiring consultants to evaluate problems, to just hire Spanish-speaking teachers.

To view the video of the Moore County Board of Education meeting for more information, please click here.

~Written by Sandhills Sentinel Journalist Stephanie M. Sellers; BS Mass Communications and Journalism, MFA Creative Writing.

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