School board supports 'isolate and engage' safety

The Moore County Board of Education reviewed safety measures at its June 6 work session.

Dr. Seth Powers, Interim Executive Officer for Academics and Student Support Services, shared a list of safety measures and said he could not share all measures because it would compromise safety.

“I hope the public isn’t expecting some grand response to the recent tragedy…because I looked in there (safety plan), and it’s all bureaucratic…not this big grandiose comprehensive plan that’s going to save the day,” school board member David Hensley said.

“I have seen the doors unlocked. Administration needs to be much more diligent,” board member Robert Levy said about an unlocked door that was the vantage point in the recent Texas tragedy where a gunman killed 19 children and two teachers at an elementary school. 

“What is the preferred method?” Levy asked about waiting for tactical agents or to be like the police officer, who went into Pinelake Health and Rehabilitation in Carthage when a gunman killed eight people in 2009, and do what he can do — immediately.

“Isolate and engage,” Moore County Schools Chief of Police, Rodney Hardy, said about the preferred method of handling a shooter.

“It would take an additional nine officers,” Powers said about providing safety officers at all schools.

“I wanna find the money for it,” Levy said.

Schoolsupports 'isolate and engage' safety

PowerPoint slide from June 6, 2022, Moore County Board of Education work session.

“We have a comprehensive plan,” Powers said. “Staff has an app on their phones to close down school wherever they are. Somebody’s gotta initiate a lockdown.”

All staff phones are alerted to a lockdown.

Safety exercises with trained professionals are routinely conducted, and staff learned not all announcements were heard. Thus, grants were used to purchase sirens with messages.

Wi-Fi signals have been tested and updated.

Video surveillance has been updated and widely installed.

Walls were built to direct visitors.

Police officers and staff have been given training for mental health alerts, threat-risk assessment of others and/or for self-harm. A document-assessment measuring tool is now used to gauge the level of a threat.

Active-shooter simulation exercises were funded by a grant and conducted by area. An actual shooter scenario was presented in 2017 and the next year following, with outside agencies in public safety.

Hardy shared a review of standard and annual training for officers. The full list may be read here.

Hardy said that the Texas attack brought to light the need for officers to have long weapons, such as rifles. Hardy said stop-bleeding kits and training, ballistic shields for each school and metal detectors are also needed.

Board member Stacy Caldwell said she was from a military background and sees how important it is to get Hardy’s list completed.

In other business, the board discussed Alternative Accountability Model Participation for the Community Learning Center at Pinckney 2022-2023.

State mandates offer three choices:

Option A. Participate in School Performance Grades as defined by G.S. §115C-83.15.

Option B. Be evaluated as defined in 16 NCAC 06G .0314.

Option C. Write proposed modifications for approval by the State Board of Education. The state may approve if the modifications are valid and reliable measures of the achievement and growth of the school’s students.

During the June 13 meeting, the interim superintendent will recommend that the school board consider a motion to approve the 2022-2023 Option B of the Alternative Accountability Model Participation and plan to use three years’ worth of data for School Performance Grade calculation in the event there is not enough data.

The board reviewed Capturing Kid’s Hearts (CKH), a contracted training service, to improve performance and has been in place with Moore County Schools since 2017. Its renewal is at a cost of $73,600 using Title I and Title II funds.

McDeeds Creek Elementary School and Southern Middle School were highlighted as high-performance schools by CKH.

The two-day training program is designed to increase student connectedness to schools, retain teachers, and increase test scores. A full list of goals may be read here. 

“The cost is the same as a reading teacher,” Levy said.

Board member Philip Holmes said the board needs to look at using funds for a teacher.

“We’ve seen office referrals go down. And there are more positive teacher-student relationships,” Powers said about the data.

“Seven-hundred and fifty per staff member,” Levy said about the training of 100 teachers. “It’s a sale pitch…but we need to ask if our investments are raising grade-score performance,” Levy said about bringing in a reading specialist.

“If the program was good, it would become part of our culture, and we could stop paying outside consultants,” Hensley said once and repeated.

“It can improve relationships with future employers when kids are in high school,” Vice-Chair Libby Carter said about the program fostering respect.

Southern Middle, Crain’s Creek Middle, Elise Middle, McDeeds Creek Elementary, Aberdeen Elementary, and Southern Pines Elementary are CKH trained.

The board will vote on continuing CKH at its June 13 meeting.

Andrew Cox, Executive Officer for Budget and Finance, said the state had not finalized its yearly budget, and the school board needs to formalize a Continuing Budget Resolution for Fiscal Year 2022-2023, a routine measure, to cover payroll.

The state budget is expected by November.

At the June 13 meeting, the board will vote on passing the resolution to ensure payroll.

John Birath, Executive Officer for Operations, reviewed the roof restoration bids of modular units at Pinecrest and Union Pines high schools.

The rolled-roof seams are torn and deteriorated and need repair immediately.

EnviroShield Roofing Services, Inc had the lowest bid at $65,805.00 and has completed similar work in the state, and capital outlay will fund the repairs.

EnvironShield Roofing Services, Inc will be recommended at the June 13 meeting.

The board discussed renewing contract services using Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Funds for two psychologists. The rate of $90 per hour is within the average rate, and each contract will be $64,800 for 2022-2023. During the June 13 meeting, the board will vote on contracting two psychologists.

The board discussed the North Carolina Academically or Intellectually Gifted Program (AIG). Read state standards here

The board included the following in a three-year plan as mandated by the state in an AIG draft.

“Nothing worse than a bright child being bored,” Carter said.

The board will vote on the AIG plan at the June 13 meeting.

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

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