Board of Education discusses questionable books

The Moore County Board of Education voted four to three for Stephen Woodward as Sandhills Community College’s Board of Trustees at its regular meeting on May 8. Woodward will begin his term on July 1.

Moore County Board of Education Vice Chair David Hensley said that three weeks ago, he began researching Sandhills Community College’s board meetings and said they were illegal.

“The meetings, maybe for long as a decade, have been held in secrecy for years,” Hensley said about public meetings held at Forest Creek Country Club, a gated community, and about holding email meetings and voting by email.

Hensley said two former county commissioners, Catherine Graham and Larry Caddell, and two attorneys should have known better than to destroy recorded meetings.

The former commissioners were emailed and phoned by Sandhills Sentinel for comments and had not replied when publishing this article. The article will be updated should comments arrive.

Hensley said the college board has gone on junkets to Las Vegas, San Diego, and New York for the last two years and that it needed to stop.

“This needs reform,” Hensley said. “I am proudly going to vote for Stephen Woodward because he is a journalist and has a record of not caving in … and has a record of speaking out for injustices.”

There are 12 trustees on the college board.

The nominees were Stephen Woodward, Kelli Taylor, Kellie Tabor-Hann, Wendy Gagnon, Michael Freidel, and Thomas Beddow.

However, the Moore County Board of Education suspended the voting policy to allow members to vote for anyone who had applied to be a nominee.

Moore County Board of Education member Stacy Caldwell voted for Tambra Chamberlain, an applicant.

“She works for Moore county schools and I loved her résumé because she is involved with the community and helping children all over Moore county,” Caldwell said in an email to Sandhills Sentinel about Chamberlain. “I felt she would bring diversity as well. I felt we needed someone with an open mind, who understood Moore county schools and who is well respected in our community.”

Moore County Board of Education members Shannon Davis and Philip Holmes voted for Freidel.

During reports part of the Moore County Board of Education meeting, Chair Robert Levy formed a uniform committee with members Philip Holmes, Shannon Davis, and Pauline Bruno to present a formal proposal in two months.

Levy directed the committee to address student concerns, seek counsel from a parent advising committee from schools with uniforms, and remember uniforms may be as simple as jeans and a blue shirt.

During her presentation, Davis said the benefits of school uniforms are establishing cohesion and equality, reducing bullying, improving study habits, increasing safety, preparing for future employment, convenience for students and parents, placing focus on character, and savings for parents.

“Not one parent I spoke to was against it,” Davis said during the presentation.

The proposal suggested a 30-day comment period for parents to voice their opinions, allowing each principal to decide which uniform standards and to offer a casual wear day.

During board action, the board approved the traditional 2024-2025 school year calendar with four votes against three votes.

The traditional calendar year for students begins on Aug. 26 and ends on June 11. Student breaks include Nov. 28-29 for Thanksgiving, with Nov. 27 as an optional staff workday with no students. The winter break is Dec. 23 through Jan. 1. Spring break is April 14 through April 21.

“It’s the law,” Superintendent Dr. Tim Locklair said about recommending the traditional calendar but preferring the early start calendar.

The board also approved the superintendent’s recommendation for the 2023-2024 Community Learning Center at Pinckney’s Option B plan for the Alternative Accountability Model to use three years’ worth of data for the School Performance Grade calculator in the event there is not enough data because admission is increasing, and they are going to add lower grade levels.

The three-year data evaluates learning outcomes, which helps forecast expense needs.

Currently, Pinckney instructs grades seven through 12.

Hensley said they were proud to spend more money on Pinckney students, and it costs about four times more to educate a Pinckney student than a Pinehurst Elementary School student.

Hensley said it costs approximately $26,000 per student at Pinckney and $7,784 per student at Pinehurst Elementary.

The board approved the 2023-2024 Standard Day Schedule, seen here.

Jamie Synan, executive officer for academics and student support services, said elementary students and parents struggle to meet early morning arrival times and requested a later time for next year.

The arrival time for elementary students to unload from the bus is 7 a.m. and 7:05 a.m.

Before public comments, board attorney Richard Schwartz announced Moore County Superior Court dismissed the 2019 JSmith Civil, LLC’s $582,000 lawsuit against the school board, Montieth Construction from Wilmington and LKC Engineering, PLLC from Aberdeen.

JSmith Civil, LLC, from Goldsboro, had claimed it was not paid to solve an engineering problem with the north slope of the Southern Pines Elementary School campus under the directions of Montieth Construction and LKC Engineering, PLLC.

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

Photo/Sandhills Sentinel. 

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