Education

Parents rally to keep Moore elementary school open

Posted March 16, 2011

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— Moore County Schools officials have targeted a top-performing elementary school for closure, but parents are campaigning to keep its classrooms open.

Academy Heights Elementary School in the Taylortown community was built in 1934, and Superintendent Susan Purser said Wednesday that the year-round school is too small for its 250 students and is costly to maintain. Closing the school would save the district about $500,000 as it tries to cut about $8.2 million from its budget to keep pace with shrinking state support, she said.

"We've looked at every single program, even activities, in the district to determine where we could provide a reduction," Purser said. “We cannot do much with that facility.”

Parents of Academy Heights Elementary students, however, say the school does a lot for their children.

"This is the kind of school where everyone knows your child. They know your name," said Carol Ray, president of the school PTA. "What goes on in those walls is so much more important (than the age of the walls)."

Academy Heights Elementary consistently ranks among the top schools in North Carolina. It met all nine of its annual targets in the 2009-10 school year, according to the North Carolina School Report Cards, and 98.4 percent of its students perform at or above grade level.

Ten other Moore County primary and elementary schools met adequate yearly progress goals last year, while four did not, according to the School Report Cards.

Academy Heights Elementary School sign Parents rally to keep Moore elementary school open

"To close down the school, essentially, with the best marks, it's devastating," Ray said. "I don't think closing a school – a well-performing school – is the answer."

She and other parents are circulating petitions to convince the school board to keep the school open. The board is expected to vote on the district's 2011-12 budget on April 4.

"I have never been anywhere where anyone has had such a great reputation in a public school," parent Karen Decker said.

“We just want to keep our school intact,” said Elizabeth Bode, a parent of two Academy Heights Elementary students. “Our teachers are the most important part – the teachers, the parents and the kids that are in our school.”

Purser, who plans to meet with parents Thursday evening, said the students would be split between Southern Pines Primary School and Southern Pines Elementary School, and teachers would be reassigned to other schools.

Although Southern Pines Elementary had only 76.3 percent of its students performing at or above grade level last year, Purser said the proposed reassignment wouldn't hurt Academy Heights Elementary students.

"The students will continue to be successful. The teachers will continue to be successful," she said. "This will not diminish the academic opportunities for our students at all."

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  • Tacoma4x4 Mar 17, 2011

    Superman... For one thing, I don't think there is a "Parent" or anyone else who is not aware of the economy, money shortage, or Tax hikes for that matter. As you can see from the article Academy Heights has relied on their own fund raising, and volunteering. I for one can say that I have no children that attend this school but, I volunteered quite a bit of my time fixing their irrigation system for their sports field and helped get it back into shape, along with a few others. This is a great school, the kids realize the time their parents and teachers spend trying to keep it that way, and are proud of it. As far as raising taxes I just paid $117.00 in vehicle tax, %45.79 is supposed to go to Moore County Education and that's just me, that's just one tax payment from me. Sounds like they could pull a minor $500,000 to me, if it even is that much to support this great school, sounds like mismanagement of money to me as some have stated in these comments.

  • wdhipp Mar 17, 2011

    skyyekatfromafar, you are dead on. What you not hearing is that they're spending "$2.8 million to add on an auxiliary gym/wrestling area at Pinecrest High School" (www.thepilot.com) as well as other large investments in other schools. Also, the article states that students are moving to SPE and SPP school which are 15mls away BECAUSE these and AHE are the only other year-round schools in the county. Actually; they notified parents that they can go to their traditional-schedule district school: Pinehurst Elem or West Pine Elem.
    Fact is, West Pine Elem opened last year, a percentage of Pinehurst Elem students were supposed to move to WPE but didn't (political). Therefore; WPE is way under capacity so how do we fill it?....let's close AHE!!!
    No doubt funds are tight, but this move is an attempt to recover from poor leadership decisions at the price of student's lives!!....and raise other school's test scores but that's another story!

  • superman Mar 17, 2011

    Simple and easy solution-- just request the County Commissioners to give the schools 8 million which includes the 500,000 to keep the school open. Raise county property taxes for the schools. If you want it-- someone has to pay.

  • superman Mar 17, 2011

    It cost 500,000 to operate that school and they have a 8 million deficit. Somemtimes hard decisions have to be made when there is a short supply of money. Perhaps the parents can find a way to raise the money and get the school open. Do they realize the state of the economy now? Seems the students are doing much better than their parents. Parents should watch tv and read the papers to learn more about how short money is now.

  • aturner3 Mar 17, 2011

    I am one of these parents fighting to keep the school open. We are the number 1 ranked elementary school in North Carolina. Yes, the building is old but we have never asked for any money for upgrades. Our school is given the least amount of funding because our PTA is so involved at raising money. New playground equipment, PTA. Smartboards in EVERY classroom, PTA. And so on. Another case of trying to punish the producers. 98% of our kids perform at or above the required state level which is 74%. The school they want us to attend is 76%. Our school is a model school and the others should be following suit! As this was sprung on us Monday, the school board votes on April 4 so we need anyones help who is willing. Follow us on facebook at 'Save Academy Heights' and PLEASE call/email our Moore County School Board Members (www.ncms.org) and tell them to "table the proposal to close Academy Heights". Why would they target the best school?? All we are asking for is a chance to find a solution.

  • skyyekatfromafar Mar 17, 2011

    Ah, yes . .now that I read ALL of your post 'oleguy' I "get your drift!" But sadly, what you deem as sarcastic unfortunately has a ring of truth to it. You don't suppose the 'real' reason for the pending shut down is that govt. can't have this kind of info leaked into the mainstream? You know-the students are doing 'better than average' grade-wise, they (the students) seem well adjusted, aren't being bused miles and miles on a daily basis. What's the real motive here? Maybe to help pay for the huge new school built in the Vass area? Where is the cost/savings going to be by closing a working facility? There will still be costs involved in schooling these students elsewhere. There's busing of course. Then the 250+ kids will have to be absorbed into the system--expand classrooms. Or better yet--go dump a "busload" of money to build another school elsewhere. This whole scenario has a political 'ring' to it from beginning to end. Its time people woke up!!

  • com_mon_sents Mar 16, 2011

    That's the way education goes today folks!!! If something is working and you have evidence...then you better believe that the EDU-RATS are going to shut it down!!! It's sad to see stories like this. All the stories we see about how bad schools are, how bad test scores are..blah blah blah...then you see something like this!?!?! Makes no sense what so ever. Hopefully the parents will win, and enable this school to remain open and continue to educate the students in that community.

  • oleguy Mar 16, 2011

    These kids are getting a great education and doing well,
    We cannot have this, we need to send them or bus them to a place away from their home,,,

    Sarcasim