School Board Honors Purser at Final Regular Meeting
The Moore County Board of Education paid tribute to Superintendent Susan Purser Monday in what was her final regular meeting before retiring Dec. 31.
The board honored Purser for her commitment to improving the lives of Moore County students and unanimously adopted a resolution recognizing her service to the Moore County school system as a “leader in educational excellence.”
Purser expressed gratitude for having had the opportunity to serve as superintendent in Moore County.
“Being a part of the community in Moore County has been the best part of my life outside of my family,” she said. “I have truly been blessed. I’m jealous of the next person who is going to come in because it is such a wonderful community.”
Purser also credited the employees of the school system for their efforts despite recent “tough years in education” and so many changes for the school system this year.
“We’re constantly looking for how we can do better with what we’ve got,” she said. “The people in Moore County have a unique vision of the possibility, and they work tirelessly every day to make it happen.”
In discussion about the search process for finding Purser’s replacement, Board Chairwoman Laura Lang reported that the first round of interviews went well, and the board is now in the process of conducting background checks and narrowing the candidate field.
“We couldn’t be happier with the caliber of people that have applied for the job,” Lang said. “Honestly, it’s very hard to narrow because they’re really, really good. We have big shoes to fill, and fortunately, we’ve had some people apply who look like they’re going to be good for it.”
She added that the board believes it will be able to stick to the search timeline originally outlined in September. The board expects to conduct its second round of interviews Dec. 13 and hopes to announce a new hire by Dec. 20.
“We’re very positive that our timeline that we thought was going to be so tight is not going to be a problem,” she said.
In other business, board member Kathy Farren provided an update on the year-round task force, which is lead by Purser and composed of parents from each of the county’s year-round school programs.
The formation of the group was one of the board’s strategic goals for the year to develop a more effective way of informing the community about the school system’s year-round programs.
The group has met twice so far this year and hopes to put out an informational brochure in January to all families about year-round schools. The group also plans to hold informational forums early in the new year to begin a local dialogue about whether or not there is interest for more year-round programs.
Farren stressed that the task force is a step toward creating more communication between the school system and the community about the year-round program’s benefits.
“It’s not about doing away with the year-round program,” she said. “There’s been some misconceptions out there, and that is not what we as a board are looking at. We are looking at more effective ways to make more people aware of the program.”
Farren added that these sessions will not impact how programs operate for the next school year, but she expressed hopes that they will give the board direction on how to move forward with the program throughout the district.
“It is looking at how we assist our district as a whole in developing plans for year round,” she said.
Though Farren’s report emphasized that the board does not intend to make any immediate changes to how the year-round program currently operates, several parents of year-round students addressed the board during the public address session of the meeting.
Parents stressed that the board should not limit kindergarten enrollment in the Pinehurst year-round program to students living in the Pinehurst Elementary School attendance district, saying that families interested in the program are being punished for “living on the wrong side of Highway 5.”
The Pinehurst year-round program is split between Pinehurst Elementary, which serves kindergarten through second grade, and West Pine Elementary School, which is for third through fifth grade.
After the meeting, Purser said the school system has not made adjustments to the program.
Purser said there is one year-round kindergarten class at Pinehurst Elementary School this year because the school system was accommodating families who had already enrolled students at Academy Heights Elementary School last year before they learned that the school would be closed.
She said that the school system does not intend to restrict access to the option at Pinehurst Elementary and classes will be added based on interest.
Purser said that the process could have been communicated more clearly earlier in the year as the Pinehurst option was coming together, and she hopes the efforts of the year-round task force will begin to address those issues for the coming year.
The board also heard a presentation from Linda Bost, a consultant for the Mebane Foundation, which recently awarded the school system $2 million in a grant that will promote STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) initiatives over the next three years.
The board will meet again to elect board officers Dec. 5.
Contact Hannah Sharpe at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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