School board sets precedence in education over tourism

The Moore County School Board unanimously approved a motion on a plan to change the school calendar at its regular meeting Oct. 11.

School board member David Hensley made the motion to send conglomerate-designed and signed letters to government officials and House and Senate educational committees stating that it was the board’s duty to ensure the best education possible, and therefore, in 2024, the board will base the school calendar on educational needs and not the tourism trade.

Hensley said the school calendar has been crafted by the state’s tourism advocates to generate tourism funds and not to propel the state’s duty to provide the best education possible.

Board member Robert Levy said the letter should state the semester should end before the winter break.

In other business at the meeting, John Birath, executive officer for operations, presented the new Integrated Planning for School and Community (IPSAC) Study and Land Use Study (LUS) presentation. He said the last study was conducted in January 2018, and the studies guide facility plans.

The four-month study conducted in the summer of 2022 shows Union Pines High School is 367 overcapacity, and Pinecrest High School is 575 overcapacity.

Union Pines High School is expected to increase in overcapacity by 820 students in 2032.

Pinecrest High School is expected to increase in overcapacity by 879 students in 2032.

Sandhills Farm Life Elementary, New Century Middle, Crain’s Creek Middle, Aberdeen Elementary, McDeeds Creek Elementary, Southern Middle, and K-12 special/alternative schools are expected to reach overcapacity, some within three years. Read the infograph here. 

The reasons for overcapacity in these schools are continued population growth in the southern and eastern areas of Moore County mostly because of increases in tourism, retirement, health care workers, and entertainment venues, and the convenient locations of the military base, the Research Triangle, and the Triad.

Birath reviewed the Master Facility Planning Process, which includes working with county commissioners in a series of meetings.

The plans include increasing capacities at Pinecrest High School, Union Pines High School, and West Pine Elementary School, and to expand Crain’s Creek Middle and West End Elementary schools.

There is a plan to build a New Area III Middle School.

The Community Learning Center at Pinckney requires modernization, and the asbestos removal in the IT department requires vacating the building.

Plans include the modernization of Farm Life, Vass-Lakeview, and Carthage Elementary schools’ gyms, and the modernization or replacement of Carthage Elementary and Cameron Elementary Schools.

Presentation slide three has a list of completed projects and slides nine and 10 cover future projects. The presentation is available here.

Board members thanked Birath for his dedication to service on his last night of work for Moore County Schools.

The board approved the $35,300,000 budget for 2022-2023 as recommended by Superintendent Dr. Tim Locklair.

There was a 6% increase in local funding to provide salary and benefit increases.

The board will use $19 million in COVID relief funds over the next two years.

Feature photo of Elise Middle School by Sandhills Sentinel Photographer Melissa Schaub.

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

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