School Board Closes Out One Year, Prepares for Next
BY HANNAH SHARPE
Summer is winding down for teachers and students, along with the Moore County Board of Education, as everyone prepares for the first day of school Aug. 25.
"It's that time of year when everything is getting started," Superintendent Susan Purser said Monday at the board's regular meeting.
Though everyone is looking ahead, the board had to retroactively approve a final budget resolution to close out its budget for the 2010-2011 fiscal year.
Chief Finance Officer Mike Griffin presented a final update for the 2010-2011 budget, calling it a "successful budget year." He reported that during the last school year, the system spent 99.9 percent of its allocated state funding - a strategy that the system uses every year in efforts to save any leftover federal or local funds.
"What we try to do is maximize state revenues so that if there are any surpluses in federal and local funding, we can carry them over for the next year," he said.
State funding allocations do not carry over to the next school year.
When board members asked about allocations for the 2011-2012 budget, Griffin told them he expects to present this year's amounts to the board at its next regular meeting once the state has formally approved it.
"I'm still waiting on a little piece of paper from the state of North Carolina," he said.
The board also heard a report on last month's start of the 2011-2012 year-round program.
About 704 students in kindergarten through fifth grade came through the doors July 18 for the start of year-round school.
This year, Pinehurst schools began offering the year-round option, with Pine-hurst Elementary School serving kindergarten through second grade and West Pine Elementary School offering grades three through five, in addition to their traditional K-5 programs.
Pinehurst Elementary currently has 104 students enrolled, with two classes for each grade except kindergarten. West Pine Elementary has 122 students with two classes per grade as well.
Most of the students in the Pinehurst year-round program came from Academy Heights Elementary School, which closed at the end of last year as a budgetary cost-saving measure.
Pinehurst Elementary Principal Sara Bigley shared her thoughts on the start of the program with the board.
Bigley said she has already seen a great deal of parent involvement in school activities, and both she and West Pine Elementary Principal Seth Powers have heard good responses from the community regarding the transition from Academy Heights.
"All I can say is it's been great," she said. "The transition has been very smooth."
Bigley added that teachers and students have had a chance to acclimate to their surroundings before the traditional year brings in new co-workers and classmates.
"I'm telling them to have fun, explore," she said. "This is new, and this is a change for them. We want them to feel happy in this new location."
Southern Pines Elementary School Principal Marcy Cooper shared her experience from the Southern Pines perspective.
Cooper said that since the Southern Pines Elementary and Southern Pines Primary School began offering the option in 2003, both schools have seen steady growth in interest and enrollment. This year, the Southern Pines year-round program is hosting 478 students - 240 at Southern Pines Elementary and 238 at Southern Pines Primary.
Southern Pines Elementary saw an increase of just over 5 percent in this year's enrollment, up from last year's count of 227 year-round students.
Cooper said the year-round program serves more students at Southern Pines Elementary than the traditional calendar, boasting four classes in each grade for its 240 students, compared to the 143 students expected at the start of the traditional year.
"You're really converting in a big way," Board Chairwoman Laura Lang told Cooper.
Purser said she enjoyed visiting all four year-round programs for the first day last month.
"Nothing is more exciting than getting to go and visit children as they come back," she said. "It's an exciting day for everyone."
Purser added that she hopes to bring together a task force of year-round parents from both the Southern Pines and Pinehurst schools once the traditional calendar starts.
She said the task force would help the school system promote the benefits of the year-round calendar and explore how the option can be offered to more students.
"I do feel it is one of our best-kept secrets here in Moore County," she said.
Contact Hannah Sharpe at email@example.com.
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