School Officials Present Dual Enrollment Options John Lentz, staff writer 18 hrs ago 0 Monetary concerns and parental “passion” for year-round study are two positions that school administrators must weigh when deciding the future academic calendars for four area schools.
At a town hall meeting held Monday at Southern Pines Elementary School, more than 100 parents, most from Southern Pines and Aberdeen, gathered to hear Moore County Schools Superintendent Bob Grimesey and other officials explain why the four schools must adopt either a year-round or traditional school calendar beginning in the next school year.
At present, Southern Pines Primary, Southern Pines Elementary, West Pine Elementary and Pinehurst Elementary Schools offer both calendars for their students. Many families from the Aberdeen area also bring their children to the Southern Pines schools to take advantage of the year-round option.
“I had two goals for tonight’s meeting,” said Grimesey after the event’s conclusion. “I wanted to make sure that everyone understood the monetary reasons that we cannot continue to offer both tracks at these schools, and I wanted them to understand that passion alone is not enough to allow these schools to be year-round only.
“Our data shows the attendance for year-round to be declining, but it’s not so much a problem that the numbers are declining as it is that they are not increasing. I would like to see consistent growth, and while there are many parents who are totally in favor of the year-round option, the data doesn’t show a slam dunk in that regard.”
In a Power Point presentation to the group, Grimesey explained how the cost of dual enrollment was affecting monetary costs during a time of shrinking resources.”Dual enrollment is costing us $400,000 per year,” Grimesey said. “With state budget reductions before us, we simply cannot afford to offer dual enrollment any longer at these schools.”
Moore County Schools Finance Officer Mike Griffin said the impact is “significant” in light of the actions of state officials.” With budget reductions over the past six years by the state, revenues are not keeping pace with costs,” Griffin said. “Eliminating dual enrollment would reduce costs at each school.”
Griffin provided a breakdown of the costs associated with utilizing the dual system.Teaching positions cost an additional $250,000 to $350,000, he said, while operational costs were estimated at $80,000 to $90,000. Transportation costs were at $32,000, utilities at $43,000, and cafeteria costs were $20,000.”
Bear in mind that these figures pertain to a dual system, not year-round only,” Grimesey said. “If year-round these costs would be mitigated by the absence of costs during spring and fall breaks.”
Grimesey said that while the dual track model is a financial burden, there was no evidence that students in one track outperform the other in terms of academic achievement.”
We are making no supposition that one is superior to the other,” he said. “Research that shows higher achievement in year-round students is reflecting ‘true’ year-round schools.”Ours doesn’t offer more instructional hours than traditional, it is just organized differently. Our research shows a pretty balanced playing field between the two.”
As with other town hall meetings in which community opinion was solicited, officials asked the audience to break into groups to provide input on what they considered the pros and cons of each track. Parents were also invited to provide feedback on why they wished to have their children continue under the year-round calendar.
Julia Lucas is the parent of two children at Southern Pines Elementary.”I feel that the statistics that say year-round numbers are declining is inaccurate,” Lucas said. “I know many parents who had their children turned away from year-round after they were told that the spots were filled. But walking through the halls the first day of school, I saw that while the traditional section was packed there were plenty of empty seats in year-round classrooms.”If we lose year-round at Moore County Schools I will have to look for another option that supports year-round, perhaps a charter school,” she said. “It’s unfortunate that this is happening. I’m pretty disappointed.”
Following the three town hall meetings, parents will receive a paper survey that they will be asked to fill out stating which track they prefer. “We will be asking, ‘Which track best meets the needs of your family?'” Grimesey said.”We are going to insist that we hear from absolutely every family from these four schools and the two Aberdeen schools as well. It doesn’t matter how you answer, but we want to hear from you.”
Grimesey said a decision on which track will be kept at the four schools will be made by the school board’s Jan. 11, 2016 regular business meeting. “We will take an objective look at the data, and I will make a recommendation after we consider what the public has told us,” Grimesey said. “I understand the passion of the parents who are in support of the year round calendar, and I respect their feelings, but we have to do what is best for the most families.”
Monday’s meeting was the first of three planned events to be held on traditional versus year round enrollment options at area schools.
The next meeting will take place on Oct. 26 at the Aberdeen Elementary School cafeteria, with the final event held on Oct. 29 at the West Pine Elementary School cafeteria. All meetings begin at 6 and conclude at 7:30 p.m.