Board of Education approves removal of some fees

One board member felt the changes didn’t go far enough

The Moore County Schools Board of Education approved changes to the student fee schedule in its May 13 meeting.

The changes remove middle and high school “other semester courses” and “math” fees, as well as enacting a decrease in the daycare tuition for 2024-25.

Board member David Hensley wanted to remove graduation and science fees as well:

“You tax what you don’t want and you reinforce what you do want and we want our students to graduate and we want our students to take math classes,” Hensley said. “But we punish them with a tax. We can say, ‘Oh, it’s only $10 bucks, who cares?’ but we should be paying our students to take science. We should be paying them to graduate. I don’t care if it’s $10 or $100 or $10,000. It’s not right.”

But Hensley’s motion was voted down due to the fact that the district would somehow have to find a replacement for that funding.

“Eventually, we’d probably ought to get rid of a bunch of these fees but it needs to be in the budgeting process,” Levy said.

In other business, the board approved a one-year extension of the retainer agreement with Schwartz Law PLLC for the provision of legal services for the Moore County Schools Board of Education, though Hensley had concerns over the increased cost for legal fees.

“Our legal fees have more than doubled in the last two years,” Hensley said. “That illustrates three things. One is it highlights that we have plenty of dollars to cover unexpected expenses. Two, it shows that we need to monitor budget execution. Finally, a large portion of our legal expenses are spent on EC and IEP related issues, and we need to see if we can get reimbursed for those because we’re supposed to get 100% reimbursement on EC issues if it’s a necessary legal expense.”

Hensley said he had gone through a six-year analysis of all the past legal fees and brought up concerns over unknown MOUs with various organizations and legal opinions and board requests made without the full knowledge of the board.

“I think Mr. Schwartz has done a great job,” Hensley said. “That’s not the issue. The issue is, we need to get this spending under control, we need to have board members review bills to find ways we can get spending under control, we need to start monitoring our budget execution in all areas, not just legal bills, and going forward, I don’t want any attorney working for any individual member of a board when he works for the board equally.”

Despite that, the board was unanimous in their approval of the extension.

“The bottom line is, the attorney is expensive,” said board chair Robert Levy. “But he keeps us out of litigation and his firm has done a damn good job in keeping us out of litigation.”

The board also approved an amendment to the FY 2023-24 budget, an increase of roughly $2,320,000 in response to allotment revisions, a $209,000 purchase of Eureka Math Squared textbooks and a $1,230,000 contract with Lomax Construction for HVAC replacement and renovation and a $230,000 contract with CCI Environmental Services for asbestos abatement, both at Pinckney Academy.

The board will next meet June 10.

By Ryan Henkel

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