Board Undertakes Evaluation of Schools

Staff Writer

The Moore County Board of Education has multifaceted goals for improving its campuses around the county in the coming years: from replacing mobile units with brick-and-mortar classrooms to modernizing or replacing older schools like Carthage Elementary.

Now the board has hired a set of consultants to translate those goals into 10 years’ worth of facts and figures. On Monday, the board is expected to approve the largest of three contracts in a comprehensive review of Moore County Schools facilities.

The three contracts total $109,000. Superintendent Tim Locklair has already approved about half of that spending — $30,000 to Jim Watson and WSSR Consulting Group, LLC and $28,000 to REI Structural Engineers for roofing assessments.

A proposed $51,000 contract for Brittain Mechanical Engineers to assess air conditioning systems throughout the district will require board approval.

“What we’re going to be moving forward with is an overall facilities review of our facilities across Moore County … so we’ll have a total district-wide assessment of that work,” Locklair said.

The study is expected to result in recommendations for campus renovations, additions and potentially new schools, along with cost estimates and potential timelines over the next decade. Moore County Schools’ newest buildings — Pinehurst, Southern Pines, Aberdeen and McDeeds Creek elementary schools — will be largely omitted from the study.

Consultants will also assess playgrounds, including those at the four newest schools.

“This will give us an independent, comprehensive look at what we need immediately as well as in the next three, five, and 10 years as we develop our capital plan and as we get a look at  what we might need in terms of revenue,” said Jenny Purvis, Moore County Schools’ executive officer for operations.

David Hensley, who chairs the board’s construction and maintenance committee, has previously laid out several “tracks” for school improvement that he’s suggested the board pursue simultaneously.

The district is currently getting the board’s scaled-down plans for repairs to the Cameron, Highfalls and Westmoore gymnasiums re-approved by the state Department of Public Instruction. Once those projects are bid, the board hopes to have money left over from its $8 million in bond premiums to consider similar improvements to the Sandhills Farm Life and Vass-Lakeview gyms as well as adding classrooms at Crain’s Creek Middle School.

Longer term, the construction committee’s priorities involve expanding Pinecrest and Union Pines, modernizing or replacing Carthage, Cameron, West End and Farm Life, building a new middle school and establishing emergency shelter facilities at some schools where needed in the county.

After reviewing the proposal during the board’s work session Monday, board members said that the goals for the next round of school construction should entail “developing community schools” of 400 students or so — half the size of the 800-student elementary schools built with the 2018 bonds.

“Will the guidance of the consultant be to take a look at that feasibility, giving priority to community schools, or can it?” said board member Ken Benway. “I’d like to see that put in the specifications.”

The board is also expected to take up the question of redistricting, and addressing the fractured feeder patterns in southern Moore County created in the last redrawing of attendance lines.

“One of our goals for a new middle school has to be to keep elementary cohorts together,” Hensley said.

All three studies are expected to be complete this summer. 

ContactMary Kate Murphyat (910) 693-2479 or