School playgrounds and auditoriums to see improvements

Capital improvements are coming to Moore schools

PINEHURST — The Moore County Schools Board approved new contracts that will see upgrades and new equipment coming to school playgrounds and auditoriums at its Monday, June 10 meeting.

A $650,000 contract with Creative Playscapes will see updates to all elementary school playgrounds, covered by bond premium funding.

The schools will be getting fresh layers of engineered wood fiber mulch, and some schools will see completely new equipment while others will see repairs to existing playgrounds.

The new equipment is expected to last between 15 to 20 years.

A $138,000 contract with Stage and Gymnasium Specialties will cover the replacement of auditorium stage curtains and hardware, while a $725,000 contract with Learning Environments will see the replacement of bleachers at North Moore, Union Pines and Pinecrest High Schools.

The lone dissent on both items was made by board member David Hensley, on the grounds that funding for the project should be coming from other sources.

“We should be using Convention and Visitors Bureau funds from the occupancy tax to pay for things like this,” Hensley said. “Sandhills Community College does this, and they do it routinely. They get grants from the Convention and Visitor Bureau and they built a minor league baseball field in some part using those grants.”

He claimed that there could be millions of dollars in grants coming via the Convention and Visitors Bureau to upgrade facilities.

“But we haven’t done that planning, and we haven’t had that vision, and we haven’t executed that in spite of every board member knowing this, said Hensley. We’re using unencumbered funds. We’re using funds we could spend elsewhere.”

“I think this is an idea that is certainly worth exploring,” said board chair Robert Levy in response. “I don’t know if I’m for it or against it, I really don’t know, but I do know that we did ask the county to use our bond premium funds for these curtains and these various improvements, and the county has said, ‘Sure, go ahead.’ and we have students who next year would like to have some nice, new curtains and actually, it’s not just nice, new curtains. I think these two ideas are not mutually exclusive, and I’d urge you guys to develop the idea and go to the legislature, but in the meantime, let’s go ahead and pass this so we can go ahead and get our students what they need right now on money that’s already been appropriated for this.”

The board also approved a three-year, $261,000 contract with TransAct for bussing software.

“Last June, the board approved a contract for navigation and ridership with CalAmp/Synovia,” said Assistant Superintendent Jenny Purvis. “New Director of Transportation Jason Nelson began to investigate issues that drivers and bus supervisors were having with the reliability of the equipment and software. Even after working with the company for months to troubleshoot, they were still unable to get the system to work reliably. After much research and piloting a new system on bus routes in each area over the last month and a half, we found the equipment and software from TransAct to be reliable and consistent in providing the data support needed for drivers and the transportation department.”

The transition will be funded through specifically allocated state money. In addition, TransAct agreed to lower its contract price to cover the cost of the buyout from the CalAmp/Synovia buyout.

Finally, a revision to the school calendar for Elise Middle School was approved.

Under the Restart school improvement model, designated schools can request schedule flexibility. Elise Middle School is choosing to expand the school day by 15 minutes each day to bank an additional 45 hours of instruction time, which will be utilized for concentrated and personalized small group work on Sept. 13, Oct. 4, Nov. 1, Feb. 5, March 5 and April 4.

The Moore County Schools Board of Education will next meet on July 1.

By Ryan Henkel

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