Public School System Begins New Year
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The Moore County public schools opened doors to an expected 12,198 students this morning.
When students do get back to class, their daily courses will fall under the new Master Schedule, designed to unify the course schedules at all the schools for the first time.
Courses at one school will have the same numerical code and grade-point average weight as the rest of the schools, making the registration and transfer information uniform and easier on school staff.
Superintendent Dr. Susan Purser begins her therd year as head of the school system. The Board of Education recently extended her contract through 2009.
New additions to administrative staff include two new principals, two new assistant principals and a handful of promotions.
One of the major issues facing the school system this year will be implementing a 12-year, $145 million Facilities Master Plan, which calls for building new schools and renovating and expanding existing campuses, to accommodate growing enrollment.
The school board will have to work with the county commissioners to come up with funding for the plan, which is broken into three four-year phases.
Bruce Cunningham, chairman of the school board's Facilities Committee said he was pleased and proud of the plan.
"It will be a responsible plan that takes into account the needs of our students," he said during the development phase.
He said the plan takes into account "the needs of the students without putting the burden on the taxpayers. I'm confident that it's a well thought-out plan, that it's a well-informed plan that makes educational and financial sense."
The plan calls for building a new high school, two middle schools and three elementary schools.
Federal and state testing requirements in curriculum areas of reading, writing and math will raise testing standards in grades 3 through 8, and high schoolers will have exit standards to fulfill as well.
Administrators and staff are developing new and creative ways to cope with the ever-looming shadow of the standardized test.
Changes for High Schools
At Pinecrest High School, some of the hallways smell of fresh paint, and a new coat of wax is on the floors.
The school will have not one, but two new principals this year.
Joel County of Apex took the helm at the county's largest high school, replacing Dr. Beverly MacAnulty, who left at the end of 2005. He comes from Northwood High School in Chatham County.
"I'm very excited about joining the Pinecrest High School and Moore County Schools team," County said at his time of hiring last spring. "I look forward to building relationships and establishing open lines of communication with the staff, students and parents. I also look forward to meeting civic and business leaders for dialogue about how the school and community can work together as we both grow and improve."
Dr. Robin Moore will become the first freshman academy principal at Pinecrest. High schools will offer a separate learning environment for freshmen, in an effort to prevent dropouts.
The freshman academy is designed to keep students in school, as well as help them pass their courses. Some of the most commonly flunked courses in high school are basic courses such as English I and algebra I, Moore said.
The other two high schools in the county are also hosting camps to acquaint the new students with life in a larger, more demanding school environment.
"It's real important to us to make sure our freshmen are getting off to a good start," Moore said. "The idea is to make a large school like Pinecrest a little smaller and make things a little more personalized."
About 530 freshmen will start their high school career at Pinecrest.
They will have new exit standards that are a series of proficiency-based, state-developed tests in subjects such as English, mathematics and science that will start with the class of 2010.
Passing these tests will be a graduation requirement.
Year-round schools are already in full swing. Students returned to class July 27.
"Things have been going great," said Janice Mann, principal of Academy Heights Elementary. "We have had a very smooth beginning of school. The students and parents and faculty and staff were great. I think they were ready to come back."
After an almost five-week break, the students returned in the sweltering July heat to their air-conditioned classrooms.
"The boys and girls have been little troupers because of the heat -- it just drains you," Mann said.
Southern Pines Primary and Southern Pines Elementary offer dual-track programs -- year-round and traditional schedules.
The year-round program has been growing slowly, but steadily. This year, there are 604 students in the year-round program at the two schools.
Southern Pines Primary has 157 year-round students, while Southern Pines Elementary has 165. Academy Heights has an enrollment of 282 students.
Caroline Kornegay can be reached at 693-2484 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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