From left: Stacey Caldwell, Robert Levy, David Hensley and Philip Holmes

From left: Stacey Caldwell, Robert Levy, David Hensley and Philip Holmes

Backlash against incumbents on the Moore County Board of Education put a slate of newcomers comfortably ahead in the voting in races for three open seats in Tuesday’s election.

According to incomplete and unofficial returns Tuesday night, Robert Levy won the District 2 seat now held by Helena Wallin-Miller. David Hensley finished ahead of Betty Wells Brown for the District 4 seat on the school board, and Philip Holmes won the District 5 seat John Weaver was appointed to last year.

Stacey Caldwell, the lone incumbent re-elected to the school board, won the District 1 seat with 81 percent of the vote over Brandon Coleman.

The Board of Elections can still accept and count ballots until Nov. 12 if they are postmarked by 5 p.m. Nov. 3. But given the current margins the challengers hold, those additional results are not expected to affect the final outcomes.

“I believe a lot of people were looking at this race. It was probably the biggest local race in the county. A lot of people were paying attention to it and a lot of people were doing their research,” Holmes said as results rolled in on Tuesday night.

“I think it was a hard race, it was a lot of hard work and I enjoyed it. I know both sides put in a lot of effort, but bottom line I’ve got to thank the people of Moore County that did vote for me. Even the ones that didn’t, hopefully I’ll earn their trust and their respect in the years to come. I’m very excited about it.”

Challengers’ campaigns focused on last year’s countywide redistricting process, Moore County Schools’ state performance ratings and how the district has handled reopening during the coronavirus pandemic.

The District 2 and District 5 candidates went through a primary this past March to narrow the field down to two candidates for each open seat. Both Wallin-Miller and Weaver narrowly led their respective primary races, but their challengers captured more votes in the general election.

With all 26 Moore County precincts reporting on Tuesday night, Levy had 53.2 percent of the vote and a 3,300-vote lead over Wallin-MIller.

“I appreciate all the voters of Moore County for having voted for myself as well as the other coservative candidates. We’re going to endeavor to make these schools the best schools in North Carolina,” Levy said Tuesday night.

Levy said that throughout the campaign he encountered voters whose school board choices were motivated by concerns surrounding the school district’s spending and decision to delay a fuller reopening of elementary schools after being authorized to reopen them by the state.

“This has been a very, very difficult campaign. There’s been a lot of name-calling and we’re going to work together, perhaps in a different direction but we’re going to work together to create the best schools in North Carolina. … I appreciate not just the people who voted for me, but also the people who worked hard for my opponent because everyone’s just trying to make the schools better and I understand that. That will not go unnoticed.”

Wallin-Miller chaired the board for two years of her five-year tenure, including for two years while the schools passed a $103 million general obligation bond to build new elementary schools in Aberdeen, Southern Pines and Pinehurst and then worked to shift school attendance lines around the county to balance enrollment across elementary and middle school campuses.

She said that she’s also proud of improvement in the district’s four-year high school graduation rate, expansion of career and technical education certifications available to high school students, and better results on teacher satisfaction surveys.

“While I’m disappointed that Moore County voters did not acknowledge these successes, I trust the board will continue to work to enhance student achievement, advocate for more funds from the North Carolina legislature, and continue our progress on modernizing our facilities,” said Wallin-Miller. “I expect that the new members will put political rhetoric aside and work closely with the current board on these initiatives and put the success of all students and staff at the forefront of their minds.

“I want to thank all the parents, teachers and staff who have entrusted me for the past few years with the significant honor of serving on your school board. I am indebted to your passion and I will continue to serve in your corner as a concerned citizen and proud parent.”

Hensley and Holmes had even more comfortable leads in their races after polls closed Tuesday. Hensley won the District 4 seat by nearly 5,000 votes and 54.9 percent of the vote to Brown’s 44.7 percent. Holmes had 54.8 percent of the vote to Weaver’s 44.8 with 4,600 votes between them.

“I want to thank all the people that supported all of us. We have worked very hard to support Moore County Schools and our teachers and our students. I wish the new board well in their new endeavors. I’m disappointed, but I understand that apparently people wanted change,” said Brown.

“We’ve worked very hard to turn Moore County Schools into the best schools that they could be and we hope that they continue to do so.”

The Moore County Board of Elections is currently scheduled to review and approve final election results Friday, Nov. 13.

(10) comments

Conrad Meyer

This is a great outcome. Now its time to get to the business of educating our children.

Kent Misegades

It is happening now - at schools outside MCS. Why must taxpayers continue supporting government-owned schools if lower-cost alternatives producing better academic results can be found all over the state? There are many good examples to follow.

Kent Misegades

The primary focus must be lowering costs and promoting school choice. A rising tide raises all ships. Look to the bloated MCS central staff and all non-teaching MCS employees for reductions in head count. There must also be consequences for poor academic performance beginning with firings of principals and MCS staffers. Start at the top. Where do taxpayers go to get their wasted property taxes back? What say the Wonder Women?

Ed DENNISON

Kent,

We can measure how we are doing from K thru 12th grade but our job is not done until our students graduate and then were can measure HOW WE DID. See this information for How We Did.

Look at the results for the class of 2020.

• MCS’ graduation rate was 93.5%, the highest it has ever been for MCS.

• MCS ranked 1st in the state of the 42 districts graduating over 700 students.

• MCS ranked 12th, of the 115 Public School Districts in NC for their graduation rates.

• Our Black graduation rate is 92.8%, an increase of 31.4% since 2010, and 5.2% above the graduation rate of ALL 2020 graduates in NC.

• Our Hispanic students 2020 graduation rate was 90.5%, an increase of 49.8% since 2010 and 2.9% above the graduation rate for ALL NC 2020 graduates.

• Our White students 2020 graduation rate was 94.5%, an increase of 11.8% since 2010 and 6.9% over ALL NC 2020 graduates.

• Over half of last years total population of juniors and seniors enrolled in at least one college course at SCC and their pass rate was 92.7%.

• And for those students choosing a career instead of college, the number of credentials awarded, in our Career and Technical Education Program went from 534 in 2015/16 to 3923 in 2018/19, a 634% increase.

• In addition, MCS Career and Technical Education Program was the only district in the region and among comparable districts across the state to exceed state goals in all eight performance indicators.

ACCOUNTABILITY & RESULTS - Ensuring all our students graduate well prepared for college or a career. We know we have challenges, as everyone knows, and are working hard to improve student performance. But we also know we have made excellent progress, even with our present challenges. Let’s all work together to improve our graduation rate. We have a long way to go and if we work together, we will get there faster.

Kent Misegades

5 Ds, 9Cs, 8Bs. The only A is at a charter school built and run at a fraction of the cost of MCS schools. What good is graduation from a failing school with low standards? Why does MCS employ a drunkard as a school leader? $30m for gold-plated schools that get a grade of D. School choice is the solution. Let parents decide if an MCS school is where they CHOOSE to send their child, or NOT.

Ed DENNISON

Kent,

I judge how well we have done after the job is complete, which is when the students graduate. I use other measurements along the way to determine what has to be changed for us to meet our goal of ensuring all our students graduate well prepared for college or a career. In this case we did an excellent job. In 2015, the year before the class of 2020 entered 9th grade we had 1 F school, 4 D, 8 C, and 7 B schools, yet we managed to have 93.5% of our students graduate, which was the 12th highest graduation rate out of the 115 public school districts in NC, and the highest graduation rate out of the 42 districts graduating over 700 students and the highest graduate rate Moore County Schools has ever had. Doesn’t this show you, even though the school grades were worse before they started 9th grade, then they are now, those students were able to improve significantly through the rest of their school years and graduate? For an analogy, it’s like any team sport, you have to make adjustments during the game, and you can judge how they are doing during the game, but you cannot determine how well they did until the game is over.

Chris Smithson

Note to Moore County BOE: Don't make Pinehurst kids go to school with kids from Aberdeen or Southern Pines...

Barbara Misiaszek

What is this supposed to mean?

John Misiaszek

Chris Smithson

This whole thing started with Pinehurst parents objecting to having the kids redistricted to schools with kids from Aberdeen and Southern Pines. If not for that, I’m pretty sure none of these challengers would have considered running, much less run. Yes, other issues came up, but it started with redistricting

Barbara Misiaszek

Got it!

John Misiaszek

Welcome to the discussion.

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