School board prepares for heavy decisions

The Moore County School Board reviewed the proposed $3,440,500 budget increase for fiscal year 2022-2023 at the April 4 work session. On March 7, the proposal was $153,685,250 and increased to $157,125,750.

The increase addresses the March 7 work session priorities. This includes staff insurance, reducing class sizes in grades fourth through fifth, supporting Connect! Academy as a stand-alone school, decompressing the classified salary schedule, increasing funding for capital outlay and digital learning, funding operating increases, and supporting charter schools.

School board member Robert Levy said there is a 7.9% Consumer Price Index (CPI) inflation increase and months vary, but the problem is that the budget is made yearly, and they should be able to speak with county commissioners for support as needed.

“We’ve increased services, and we’ve increased our people,” Levy said about using COVID-19 funds to add nurses, and COVID-19 funds running out and the expenses continuing. “Guys, we need to be tough with county commissioners. They’re going to be tough back.”

Levy said because the average wage rise is 4.7%, and inflation is 7.9%, wages are not outpacing inflation to allow for purchases of faucets, paint jobs, and needed items for maintenance.

Moore County Schools’ proposed fiscal year 2022-23 budget slides are from the Moore County School Board.

The county pays the charter schools’ budget based on an estimated increase in students.

Board member David Hensley said the overall per people funding has a 22% increase, and 60% of that is salary increases mandated from Raleigh.

The board will act on its final $157,125,750 proposed fiscal year 2022-23 budget on April 11.

The Moore County Board of Education will present the approved budget to Moore County Commissioners April 19 at 5:30 p.m.

In other business, the Connect! Virtual Academy Planning Team discussed the program’s appropriate students, the academy’s origination history, and its success.

The Connect! Virtual Academy began in 2017 when parents requested options beyond brick-and-mortar schools. Teachers created online programs and, in March 2020, the pandemic forced online schooling.

Dr. Mike Metcalf, Interim Chief Officer for Academics and Student Support Services, said online programs currently serve 527 students, with 65% staying for both semesters. There are 56% exceptional and 45% minority students.

Online trend performance was better for most grades, but for ninth-graders, data showed their performance was lessened.

End-of-grade testing is conducted in person at their assigned school.

Surveys showed that 50% of respondents would seek other options if Connect! Virtual Academy was not available while showing about 600 more online students if it was available.

The board will vote on endorsing Connect! Virtual Academy as a stand-alone school for all students beginning in the 2022-23 school year.

The team designed a screening process to ensure students in the online learning environment are in the best suitable learning environment.

The board voted to maintain optional mask-wearing for students and staff when indoors at all schools and district sites, for indoor athletic (home events) and extracurricular activities, and for bus transportation.

From Feb. 28 to March 24, 91 students were tested for COVID-19, and six were positive, and none of the 17 staff members tested positive for COVID-19.

Decisions on mask management were based on the Department of Health and Human Services and their Strong Schools NC Public Health Toolkit.

Also discussed at the meeting, as of March 21, out-of-state requests for field trips have been open for applications.

Dr. Seth Powers, Interim Executive Officer for Academics and Student Support Services, said North Moore High School wants to travel from June 19 through June 25 for theater arts to Bloomington, IN for the International Thespian Festival.

Travel plans include plans on how to transport students who may become ill, including COVID-19.

Finally, the upset bid process for the Old Aberdeen Elementary School ended with an offer of $400,000 from Drain the Swamp, LLC.

The board will consider the offer at its regular business meeting on April 11 and, if accepted, will close on May 11, 2022.

To view the school board meeting video in its entirety, please click here

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

Print Friendly, PDF & Email