The Moore County Board of Education has been busy the last couple of years. It had voters overwhelmingly approve a rare bond referendum in 2018 to build three new elementary schools; it built a fourth and is finishing a critical expansion at North Moore High School with conventional financing.

Partly as a result of all this construction, the board last year undertook the even rarer challenge of redrawing attendance lines. Most children and families will see no change, but for some the redistricting was concerning and disturbing.

As if that wasn’t enough, the global coronavirus pandemic has turned education upside down, forcing the district to scramble for the latter part of last year and this one on building a new model of delivering education.

Into all this is now thrown an election. Four of the seven school board seats are open, and all are contested. Today’s endorsements feature the District 1 seat, featuring incumbent Stacey Caldwell and challenger Brandon Coleman, and the District 2 seat, featuring incumbent Helena Wallin-Miller and challenger Robert Levy.

In these two races, The Pilot endorses Caldwell for District 1 and Wallin-Miller for District 2.

District 1: Stacey Caldwell

Caldwell, a former elementary school teacher, came on the board in 2015 and won a full four-year term in 2016. A people-pleaser by nature, she’s had to learn that she can’t always accomplish that while in public office.

When it came to redistricting, she voted against the final plan. “But I have to learn to respect that and move on.”

That’s mature growth. Caldwell can sometimes be a quiet presence on the board, but she can also be assertive when needed, especially when it comes to defending the frontline teachers and their needs. And she’s passionate about the needs of military-connected families and their children.

Caldwell is an active listener and a board member willing to put in the behind-the-scenes hours it takes to do this job.

Her opponent, Brandon Coleman, did not make himself available for interview, but we have grave misgivings about him, not the least of which were the criminal charges he faced earlier this year that stem from an ugly domestic custody dispute. A mistrial was declared in that case. Months before Coleman announced his candidacy, he served a 60-day jail sentence for violating a court-ordered custody agreement.

Stacey Caldwell is whom you want for Board of Education District 1.

District 2: Helena Wallin-Miller

Wallin-Miller, who works as a child- and family-policy consultant, joined the board in 2015. She ran unopposed in 2016 and served two terms as chair of the school board.

Wallin-Miller defines dedicated leadership. She brings competence, confidence and thoughtfulness to her work.

On her watch, Wallin-Miller spearheaded the construction of four elementary schools, the passage of the bond referendum to finance three of them, and the redrawing of the attendance lines necessitated by the new buildings. Through all of these initiatives, Wallin-Miller has displayed the calmness and professionalism that we should expect from our leaders.

Student achievement is commensurate with faculty morale. And, Wallin-Miller has been at the forefront of increasing this important metric — teacher satisfaction. She joined the board amid one of the lowest points of employee morale and has not forgotten the chaos that comes from ignoring the needs of the schools’ staffers.

Bob Levy brings an intellectual curiosity and fairness to his campaign. A retired attorney and Moore County Schools substitute teacher, the likable Levy would do well on the school board, if he could just get out of the way of his at-times overheated rhetoric. We think Levy is capable of doing that and wish he were running in another district or against a lesser candidate than Wallin-Miller.

Above all, members of the school board should be champions of public education. By her words and deeds, Wallin-Miller fits that bill. We offer her our wholehearted endorsement.

(6) comments

Frankly, the entire board should be disbanded, given massive squandering of taxpayer money on gold-plated schools and their abysmal academic achievement: of the 23 Moore County schools reported by NCDPI 60% were given grades of C or D. The only school in Moore County to receive an A rating is the Academy of Moore Charter school in Aberdeen, built with zero taxpayer dollars and operated for significantly less money per pupil than any MCS government school. The logical conclusion - stop funding failing government schools. Give every school-aged child a voucher at the level what is now given to charter school students. Disband the board of education and MCS. Free market solutions will explode, providing great academic options to families and more options to the best educators. Why throw right good money after bad?

Ed DENNISON

Moore County Schools Facts and Progress 2010 – 2020

2010 2020

Graduation Rate

All Students 80.2 93.5 +16.6%

Black 70.6 92.8 +31.4%

Hispanic 60.4 90.5 +49.8%

Multi-Racial 73.9 89.1 +20.6%

Economically Disadv. 69.9 87.5 +25.2%

English Learner 56.2 81 +44.1%

Students w/Disabilities 70.8 79.8 +12.7%

White 84.5 94.5 +11.8%

Asian 87.5 95+ +8.6%

American Indian 88.9 91.7 +3.1%

MCS ranked #12, out of 115 public school districts in NC, for 2020 graduation rates and is ranked #1 out of the 42 public school districts graduating 700 or more students.

2010 2019

Scholarship Offers $11,500,000 $27,000,000 +134.8%

Ed Dennison

Moore County Schools Board of Education

North Carolina School Boards Association Board of Directors

2019 Best of the Pines Public Servant/Elected Official

Navy Veteran

Ed DENNISON

Moore County Schools is the #1 School District, in the Region and Affinity Group, for Career and Technical Education (CTE). MCS was the ONLY school district in the Region and Group to exceed the state goals for all 8 Performance Indicators:

1. Academic Attainment: Reading/Language Arts

2. Academic Attainment: Mathematics

3. Technical Attainment

4. Secondary School Completion

5. Student Graduation Rates

6. Secondary Placement

7. Non-Traditional Participation

8. Non-Traditional Completion

See Performance Indicator definitions below.

Data Categories: Definitions:

1S1 Academic Attainment: Reading/Language Arts CTE Concentrators academic proficiency in Reading/Language Arts

1S2 Academic Attainment: Mathematics CTE Concentrators academic proficiency in Mathematics

2S1 Technical Attainment CTE participants who have met proficiency using the state assessment measure.

3S1 Secondary School Completion Extended graduation rate

4S1 Student Graduation Rates Four-year graduation rate for CTE concentrators

5S1 Secondary Placement CTE Concentrators are in postsecondary education or advanced training, military service or service program or are employed.

6S1 Non-Traditional Participation CTE Concentrators in CTE programs of study that lead to non-traditional fields.

6S2 Non-Traditional Completion Students who completed a program that leads to employment in nontraditional fields are of the nontraditional gender.

The Number of Career and Technical Education (CTE) Credentials Earned by Moore County Schools Students

2015-2016 2016-2017 2017-2018 2018-2019 Credentials Awarded 534 807 1678 3923 +634% vs 15/16

Ed Dennison

Moore County Schools Board of Education

North Carolina School Boards Association Board of Directors

2019 Best of the Pines Public Servant/Elected Official

Navy Veteran

Stephen Woodward

Great Ed, but ... since last March you’ve abandoned Moore kids with lockdowns and closures. You have ignored the pleas of 75% of parents to let the kids GO BACK TO SCHOOL 100%. This is gross negligence. And, oh by the way, all your data points overlook the abysmal ratings our schools receive year in and year out. Stop lying.

Ed DENNISON

Steve, You were at our Board meeting on 10/12 and in case you were not listening to my comments I have copied them below. Ed

Comments

For October 12, 2020 Board Meeting

I would like very much like to have all our students back in school 5 days/week. The Governor has stated school districts could have all their K-5 students back full time if they determined that was best for their particular district. Rights or Responsibilities, which one is more important? Is sending all our K-5 students back to school full time, now, more important than ensuring we have done everything we can to reduce the risk of Covid-19 before we send them back? Don’t we have we have a greater responsibility to do it in a way we can ensure our students and staff are safe?

My #1 concern, as a school board member for 19 years, has always been the safety and security of our students and staff, just as it was for my employees, in my 40 plus years in business management. In this case the Covid-19 risk factor and my responsibility to protect our students and staff overrides our right to send all our K-5 students back full time, until we are as prepared as we can possibly be to ensure their safety.

This is similar to my position on wearing a mask. I have the right not to wear a mask but I have a greater responsibility to protect myself, my family, and all those with whom I come in contact. Having a degree in biology and chemistry, I have learned to take the advice of experts, on Covid-19, before making my decisions. I know you can always find someone, whom you consider an expert, to support your position on any subject but I prefer to listen to the majority of experts on the subject before I make my decision. This is not only true for Covid-19 but for the decisions I need to make as a school board member. When I need to make a decision on educational issues I listen to the experts and to the public and then make my decision, based on my 19 years’ experience and thousands of hours of training as a school board member, to determine what would be most beneficial for students.

As a school board member, with safety & security as my number 1 concern, I will always make the decision that will ensure all our students are graduated well prepared for college or a career. This is the Final Grade on how we, as public-school board members, have done in fulfilling our responsibility for North Carolina K-12 public education. Since I have mentioned both business and education, I have a question for you, which is more difficult, ensuring your company makes a profit or ensuring all our students graduate well prepared for college or a career?

For 2020 I would give us an A grade. We had the 12th highest graduation rate, 93.5, out of the 115 public school districts in North Carolina and were #1 of the 42 public school districts graduating over 700 students. Our Career and Technical Education program was one of the very best in North Carolina and was one of only a few that exceeded all 8 state goals for:

1. Academic Attainment: Reading/Language Arts

2. Academic Attainment: Mathematics

3. Technical Attainment

4. Secondary School Completion

5. Student Graduation Rates

6. Secondary Placement

7. Non-Traditional Participation

8. Non-Traditional Completion

And the credentials awarded to our students rose from 534, in 2016, to 3,923, in 2019, a 634% increase.

I am proud of the accomplishments of our students, Dr. Grimesey, and all Moore County Schools employees and proud to be a member of the Moore County Schools Board of Education.

Ed DENNISON

Steve, What was my lie?

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