Schools Prepare for Students' Return
For students enrolled in the traditional school calendar, it’s back to the books tomorrow, and that will mean some changes for the 2012-2013 school year.
Four new principals, a different system for measuring student achievement, and modified starting times for several schools are some of the bigger differences.
“I think this will be our best school year ever,” said Schools’ Superintendent Aaron Spence as he prepared for his first full school year in Moore County. “We’re going to build on our strengths and do good things for the kids.
“We will have a challenge in NC Ready, the program that will replace the ABCs testing program that has been in place since the 1990s, but our teachers are well-prepared, and I know they will demonstrate their expertise. I anticipate some really great things from Moore County Schools this year.”
The biggest difference for the entire system is implementation of a new accountability model designed to reflect a more accurate picture of student learning.
Kathy Kennedy, the Moore County associate superintendent of instructional design and innovation, presented the basics of the new statewide initiative, called NC Ready, to the county Board of Education earlier this summer.
“The emphasis will be on complexity, not difficulty, and will encourage the students’ capacity for complex thought,” Kennedy said in her briefing. “We want them to be thinkers, which will help ensure that the students are college- and career-ready.”
The standards and assessments portion of the model will be of particular interest to parents, Kennedy said, and will involve a national program known as Common Core and the statewide Essential Standards program.
“The national Common Core program will focus on English/Language Arts and math K-12, while the statewide Essential Standards focuses on social studies, art, band, health, and physical education and others,” she said. “This marks the first time in at least 30 years that all curriculum standards are being replaced in each subject and each grade at the same time. These new standards will ensure that our students are learning and mastering what they must know in order to succeed in college, in careers and in life.”
School spokesman Tim Lussier said the program is attractive because it creates “consistency” between other states and school districts.
“Say a child transfers to a Moore County school from another area of Moore County or from another state,” Lussier said. “Under NC Ready, every student is assured of encountering the same set of skills no matter where he or she goes. We want all parents to know that this program marks a new and different way of looking at things in regard to their children’s education.”
“The new standards will foster a more consistent, equitable learning experience for students across socioeconomic levels, among races and ethnicities, and regardless of geography,” she said. “North Carolina students, especially from military families, will be equipped to walk into a classroom anywhere in the country and be on track.
“It is a really exciting time to be a student, and a really exciting time to be an educator. There are many opportunities for both under this new program.”
A new deputy school superintendent, Marc Bergin, began his position on July 1. Formerly the director of elementary education for Chesterfield County, Va., and an acquaintance of Spence, Bergin said he was excited to be coming to Moore County.
“I am excited that Mr. Bergin is joining our team,” said Spence. “He has big shoes to fill, but he has been a highly successful principal and central office leader. He believes as I do that every child deserves our very best every day, and I am confident our community will appreciate his positive but demanding leadership as much as I do.”
Four new principals will be in place when students return to classes. They include:
n Jonathan Jessup, who comes to North Moore High School from Lexington Senior High School in Lexington, where he was an assistant principal;
n former Pinecrest High School assistant principal Herb Hanson, now the new principal of Southern Middle School;
n Judy Heffner, who was principal of Randolph County Schools’ Level Cross Elementary and who will be principal at Robbins Elementary; and
n former Union Pines High School principal intern Jennie Purvis, now the head of Vass-Lakeview Elemen-tary School.
This summer, Spence received approval from the county Board of Commissioners to use $11 million on upgrades to its three high schools plus an additional $100,000 in lottery funds to cover any remaining costs.
“This is a good thing for Moore County, and modernizing the high schools is something that needed to be done,” Spence said. “The kids deserve a great place to go to school.”
The next construction phase will include modernization and standardization of facilities at Union Pines, Pinecrest and North Moore High Schools. The starting date for the new construction has not yet been determined.
In what officials termed a cost-savings measure, new starting and ending times for 13 of the 23 schools in the system were announced for the 2012-2013 school year.
High schools last year started at 9 a.m., allowing the school system to park between 18 and 20 buses and save about $400,000.
But when Spence arrived as superintendent several months ago, he was made aware of the “challenges” presented by the schedule. Spence said high school principals asked that the administration look into the possibility of an earlier start time as a result of some of the problems they faced regarding athletics and other after-school activities.
“I informed the principals and the board that we would take a close look at what start and dismissal times would best serve our schools. However, no changes would be made that would negatively impact our budget,” Spence said.
The changes are as follows: Union Pines and North Moore High Schools will begin classes at 8:30 a.m. and end at 3:30 p.m., while Pinecrest High School will hold classes from 8:45 a.m. until 3:45 p.m.
Area II elementary schools will see an alteration in their schedules. Highfalls, Robbins and Westmoore Elementary Schools will all change to a 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. schedule, beginning and ending 15 minutes earlier than in the current year.
In the Pinecrest High attendance Area III, Spence said there were “greater challenges,” which required more variety in schedules.
Aberdeen Elementary and Southern Pines Elementary will see a change of 7:45 a.m. to 2:45 a.m., 15 minutes earlier than last year. Because they share buses with the two elementaries, Aberdeen Primary and Southern Pines Primary will run a daily schedule of 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 a.m., also 15 minutes earlier than last year.
Southern Middle School will run a daily schedule of 7:45 a.m. to 2:45 p.m. in order to share buses with Pinecrest.
West Pine Elementary’s schedule will remain the same, but Pinehurst Elementary will begin 15 minutes earlier at 7:30 a.m. and dismiss at 2:30 p.m.
“This schedule best supports the dual track, year-round and traditional schedules, at those schools,” Spence said. West Pine Middle, which shares a campus with West Pine Elementary, will keep the same schedule of 8:15 a.m. to 3:15 a.m.
West End Elementary, which will be sharing buses with the high school, will begin 15 minutes earlier at 7:30 a.m. and dismiss at 2:30 p.m.
The Pinckney Academy Alternative School schedule will remain unchanged: 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Contact John Lentz at (910) 693-2479 or jlentz@thepilot. com.
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