School Budget Gets Approval of Board
The Moore County Board of Education voted Monday to approve a $25.68 million budget after making some minor adjustments to a draft from Super-intendent Susan Purser.
The board added four assistant principal positions. Purser's proposed budget had provided for just one.
The overall budget, however, remained relatively unchanged. The board voted unanimously to approve it.
The school system is requesting $24.2 million from the county for local current expenses and $1.48 million for capital outlay -- a $3.7 million increase from last year's county appropriations.
"I wanted to say thank you for putting in the assistant principal positions," board member Joe Vaughn said at the meeting. "Now comes the work with our county commissioners. I feel optimistic about that also."
Purser has called this the most ambitious of the three budgets she has helped develop. She said it focuses more on programs than just basic needs.
The budget includes such things as new elementary school reading programs, technological improvements in classrooms, an increase in support for school athletic programs and equipping school buses with two-way radios.
Many of these new initiatives sprang from recommendations by task forces on technology, literacy, athletics and alternative education that Purser assembled to investigate needs.
"This budget initiative does take us forward a great deal," Purser said.
Purser also addressed some budget concerns that the school system must address in coming years.
Those include looking at ways to support academic competitions such as the Quiz Bowl or debate teams. It will also consider adding a permanent grounds and field maintenance position in the future.
Other issues, Purser said, will include increasing teaching position allotments, especially in the high schools.
"Instead of being so broad and shallow, we will be focusing on our core areas," she said. "We need to make sure we don't exceed a student-to-teacher ratio of 26 to 1."
Purser said the school system's track record of asking for moderate increases in the county budget in the past two years, coupled with this year's well-planned request, should put it in good stead with the county commissioners. She said communication between the school system and the commissioners has been encouraging so far.
"I feel very good about that relationship," she said, "and it works best when there is communication that goes between us."
Board members shared Purs-er's confidence.
"I think the budget is real special," said member Charles Lambert. "It's real centered on the children. I can't say enough for the staff and all the hard worked they've done."
Purser, board Chairman Bruce Cunningham and some other board members will present the budget to the county commissioners April 16.
"Everyone should feel proud of the work and the effort that has taken place," Cunningham said. "It gives equal attention to being careful with the taxpayers' money and to addressing the educational needs of our students."
In other business:
n The board approved several minor changes to the language of its policy on school transfers. The board discussed the policy, highlighting the fact that students with special circumstances who wish to transfer can do so only if a school has enough room for them.
Assistant Superintendent Dr. Larry Upchurch clarified this policy for the board.
"We expect you to go to school in the area where you live, but we are creating some exceptions," Upchurch said. "But those exceptions are based on the fact that we can accommodate the kids going there."
n Beverlee Beale presented a plan for the first-ever Summer Academy for teachers. With the academy, the school system could offer all staff development training in the summer, which would free up teachers to spend more time in the classroom during the school year.
The academy will be held Aug. 6-9 and 13-16. Teachers can participate on a voluntary basis. All of the sessions will be offered at Pinecrest High and Southern Middle schools.
Teachers who attend the academy would receive assistance in updating their curricula, refining their teaching skills and exploring new teaching strategies. It will also give them a chance to interact with their colleagues in a professional environment, Beale said.
"More is expected from our teachers than ever before," Beale said. "Teachers yearn to be able to sit and have a professional dialogue."
n The board also approved school improvement plans from Southern Middle and Pinecrest High. Both schools are required by federal law to submit strategies for narrowing their achievement gaps. Pinecrest met all of its goals for improvement this year.
Purser said, "This is definitely a work in progress."
Katherine Evans can be reached at 693-2480 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
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