Board of Education approves preliminary budget for upcoming year

The board declined to defy North Carolina law on school calendar for 2025

The Moore County Schools Board of Education met Monday, April 15, discussing the preliminary budget for fiscal year 2024-2025.

Superintendent Tim Locklair, who briefed the board, said the proposed budget would total $166.5 million with almost $39 million coming from Moore County, an increase of some $3.7 million.

Assistant Superintendent for Budget and Finance Tina Edmonds reported that district staff found budget efficiencies of $632,800 by freezing out various vacant positions as well as a local technology grant.

“There’s been a lot of hard work and I believe it’s a good budget,” said board chair Robert Levy. “I believe it’s an excellent budget and a responsible budget. It takes into account inflation and it takes into account our needs and it’s a conservative budget. Given the money that the county commissioners are appropriating for us, we are doing a great job and our students are doing a great job. One last thing is that we’re meeting the goals of our strategic plan with this budget.”

Following discussion, the board approved the budget with board member David Hensley being the lone dissent.

The board then moved on to the 2025-26 school calendar.

There had been long discussions amongst the board on potentially overruling North Carolina’s school calendar law in order to move the start date up a couple of weeks, but the board voted 4-3 in order to keep a traditional calendar for the 2025-26 school year that followed the law.

“The law is crystal clear,” Levy said. “The law says that you can’t open school before a certain date and you cannot close it before a certain date. I wish it were different. I believe the law is wrong, but if every person could decide for his or her own self what laws were right or wrong, we’d have anarchy. We have to obey the law until the law is changed.”

The dissenting votes were those of Hensley, Philip Holmes and Pauline Bruno.

“I don’t understand why 19 other counties have changed their school dates and Lee County is one of them right next door to us,” Bruno said. “I don’t understand why we’re going along with what Phil Berger wants in the Senate. I just don’t get it. There’s a lot of money involved in this, he’s listening to the tourism industry, they’re lobbying and that’s what this whole thing is about. It has nothing to do with how well our children will do, it has nothing to do with the families. School still has to go the same number of days, so what is the difference if they get out earlier and go back to school earlier. There’s no difference.”

Bruno declared it “a very bad law” and said “Raleigh should not be determining how Moore County children go to school. We’ve done the questionnaire online and the teachers are for it, the parents are for it.”

“I agree 100% and we’re all probably on the same page, but my issue is breaking the law,” said board member Stacey Caldwell. “I just don’t want to set that example for our children.”

The Moore County Schools Board of Education will next meet May 13.

By Ryan Henkel

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