DOES new Aberdeen school FAIL to follow state and federal environmental guidelines?

 

Chris Fitzsimon and Rob Schofield (aka “Sesame Street’s Bert & Ernie”) have unleashed their PolicyWatch  hounds on Moore County Public Schools for their decisions regarding Moore County’s new Aberdeen school:

 

On the edge of Aberdeen lay a lovely tract of land that was easy to miss while speeding down Highway 5. Stippled with young to middle-aged pine trees, it historically had been used for timbering, but now the landowner, BVM Properties, was ready to sell.

 

Where BVM saw an opportunity to offload land, which some who knew the town’s history viewed as undesirable, Moore County School District officials envisioned possibility: The 22 acres would accommodate a new and larger elementary school for Aberdeen kids. It would be filled with light and equipped with modern technology, and plenty of outdoor space where its 800 children in Pre-K through fifth grade could play.

 

What a contrast it would be to the current Aberdeen Elementary and Primary schools. Built in the 1940s, when Aberdeen was formally segregated, the schools are cramped, dilapidated and threadbare. They remind teachers, staff and students – most of whom are from communities of color – of enduring inequality.

 

But this land and this school would be different. Better yet, the property was cheap: $9,000 an acre. It was the first and only offer school district administrators considered.

 

The land was cheap for a reason. It is sandwiched between two Superfund sites where pesticides were dumped for 50 years. It is located next to an industrial area and within a mile of 10 air pollution sources.

 

Yet district officials, many of whom are familiar with the history of pesticide dumping in Aberdeen, insist the site is safe. They are basing their confidence on a Phase I environmental assessment from engineering firm Building & Earth, which the district hired to analyze the site. “Everything they looked at didn’t reveal anything wrong with the property,” said John Birath, director of operations for Moore County Schools.[…]

The Pilot is friends with these guys at PolicyWatch.  I wonder if they’ll cover any of this?  (*NOT holding the breath* …)

 

Birath spoke to the reporter ever so quietly , so as not to wake the Board of Education from their slumber.  (They need to be well-rested when Dr. Bob and the rest of the bureaucrats bring them the next batch of stuff to ‘rubber-stamp.’)

 

MORE:


[…] But a review of that assessment shows that it relies primarily on historical documents and “visual inspections.” Independent testing, which would be part of a Phase II assessment,  isn’t required unless records indicate there could be pollution on the property. Nor did the assessment consider many other pollution sources.

 

The school is scheduled to open next fall, and construction has already begun, even though by locating the new school on this property, district officials defied nearly every EPA recommendation – and some state guidelines – for siting schools: It is within a mile of a railroad, a highway with heavy diesel truck traffic, an industrial zone, a propane gas facility, a propane pipeline, four Superfund sites and several small manufacturing facilities. There will be no sidewalks or bike lanes for at least four years. The district never released the environmental assessment for public comment.[…]

 

As part of a $103 million bond, the district is building several other schools, but none of them in areas this polluted. In Southern Pines, which is north of Aberdeen, the district is spending $82,000 an acre – upward of $1 million – for a new elementary school with no obvious or documented contamination sources. Whereas 80 percent of students attending Aberdeen schools qualify for free or reduced-price lunch, a little more than half of Southern Pines Elementary students do. The North Carolina average is 59 percent, according to state data. Half of students who attend Southern Pines are from communities of color; at Aberdeen, that figure is two-thirds.[…]

 

I guarantee that NONE of the decision-makers on this project will be sending their kids to this new Aberdeen school.

 

MORE:

 

 

[…] Finding the right land in Moore County is more difficult than it looks by consulting a map. Much of the vacant land is consumed by golf courses, which are popular because of Pinehurst’s reputation as a golfing mecca that has hosted multiple U.S. Open tournaments. Growth in the northern part of the county is slower than in the southern part, such as Aberdeen, where military families are streaming in.

 

As part of a massive overhaul, in 2014 the school district hired the Operations and Research Education Laboratory at NC State University to suggest the best sites for several new schools. OREd, as it’s known, examined demographic and growth trends – not environmental factors. As illustrated by a series of large circles on a map, OREd recommended a site on NC-5, across from the old Pit Links Golf Course. “It was an optimal site location for a new school,” Birath said. “It was smack dab in the middle of the circle.”

 

Enter BVM Properties, which owns a lot of land in Moore County. BVM stands for Bernice V. Martin, widow of Robert Martin, a renowned eye surgeon in Pinehurst. Both have since died, and the property company is now managed by their son, also named Robert. BVM had been negotiating with a local residential developer, Birath said, “but the developer stepped away for a period of time.” During that hiatus, the broker for the property approached the school district. “We found that it was a very promising site,” Birath said.[….]

 

And then there were these lil’ ol’ things called Siting Guidelines issued by the US Environmental Protection Agency:

 

[…] The EPA siting guidelines, which are voluntary, are designed to protect students from pollution. The district, though, did not consult them, said Board of Education member Bruce Cunningham. He said he didn’t know about the guidelines until Policy Watch emailed him a copy. Nonetheless, Cunningham said that based on a consultant’s report, “I have complete confidence that our students will be environmentally protected.”[…]

 

[*”Because Dr. Bob told me so.”*]

 

MORE:

 

[…] In choosing a new location, the EPA recommends that a school district convene a siting committee, composed of administrators, school board members, teachers and parents, to evaluate and rank several sites. But Moore County Schools convened only the members of the district staff and the superintendent. Nor did they consider any alternative sites.[…]

 

The siting process failed other EPA litmus tests:

 

    • Transparency – In response to concerns about the proximity of former pesticide dumps to the site, the district paid $9,000 for an environmental assessment, conducted by Building & Earth. In that 2015 document, the firm acknowledged the assessment was not to be “construed to be comprehensive.” The EPA recommends that these assessments be released for “meaningful” public comment and engagement.The district did neither. Catherine Murphy, spokeswoman for the district, said she disclosed it to the local media and that it was presented to the Board of Education at a May 2017 meeting. She said she also provided the document “whenever it was requested.” But people can’t ask for what they don’t know exists.

 

    • Fuel storage – Ferrell Gas sells and ships wholesale propane tanks by rail less than a quarter-mile from the school. An underground propane pipeline is less than a half-mile away.

 

    • Walkability – NC-5 is a main thoroughfare between Pinehurst and Aberdeen, and a primary route for heavy trucks entering and leaving nearby manufacturing plants. A state Department of Transportation spokesman said the road will be widened to four lanes and include sidewalks, with construction bids opening in 2022. The road could be complete by 2024, four years after the school opens.The EPA recommends locating schools in walkable neighborhoods – not on the edge of town, like the new Aberdeen site – because kids need to exercise. A Moore County health report card showed that 20 percent of schoolchildren between kindergarten and ninth grade are overweight. Birath said walkable schools are “a challenge” for rural areas.Children aren’t walking to school now, Birath said, even though a tunnel runs beneath US 1 to eastern neighborhoods. Most of the children travel by school bus or by car with their parents, adding to the load of air pollutants.

 

    • Hazardous waste sites – In addition to the Superfund pesticide dumps, another hazardous waste site, Parker-Zenith is about a mile from the school. Parker-Zenith repaired pumps for DuPont. The groundwater is contaminated with solvents and degreasers.

 

 

Where has the board of education BEEN ???

23 thoughts on “DOES new Aberdeen school FAIL to follow state and federal environmental guidelines?

  1. Asleep at the wheel. Too scared to do their d*mn job. Screwing the taxpayers over left and right. Preaching to parents that their kids will be just fine with the redistricting when NONE of their kids are affected. Slamming the people of pinehurst/CCNC when the majority of them live in the area.
    I hope the residents of Moore County make it known to the commissioners that MCS doesn’t deserve another God d**n dime until they are audited and when see whose pockets are being padded.

    1. Amen I say the same thing. Why would we use a contractor Thats already been sued in SC oops because J.Birath worked for the company before. ????
      And it will cost us 3 times the amount to build one ?? school ?

      1. Yep saw that posted somewhere that they built a school for under 9 million 10 years ago. Construction cost have not gone up that high. Paying some company to come in and play with the numbers because the board of education can’t look at their own numbers and figure that stuff out was just a waste. Millions to an architect company that Birath used to work for just smells bad. No reason really given for not going after the bid bond. Total all that up and I bet you get more money than what the board is begging for now. Bunch of liars they are. Got us to pass that bond and told us sales tax increase would go back to pay that off. Now they want to raise property taxes. Teachers really don’t get paid a d*mn. Can’t get buses or bus drivers but they are just throwing money around. AUDIT! AUDIT! AUDIT! And not by one of their buddies. Someone who isn’t corrupt or can’t be paid off and then get rid of them all because they are liars. Probably some deserve to be locked up.

  2. John Birath, Knew before even suggesting the land. It was and contaminated sight.
    Catherine Murphy knew it also her words was what people don’t know people Won’t asked.
    Bruce Cunningham stated he didn’t know about the guidelines into policywatch come out” really and you on our BOE . Lies How do I know this because I talk to him about it. I suggested building a school in Pinebluff area to take so much congestion out of the Southern Pines schools. His statement to me was That’s out of the question and it is too late Land Bought!! Also Ms Miller we’re not forgot about you! And Bob Grimesey YOU on the top of the LIST

  3. Can’t get many people to pay attention because Grimesey’s got all of them drinking the kool aid. They get to pass it off as parents angry about redistricting. My kids have already graduated and moved and I have concerns. Had concerns about that Grimesey from the start. Radical mom mobs should not be able to overturn decisions made by elected officials. Jamie Boles had no right to involve himself in that just to get votes.
    Something going on with the money too. I agree with lil feathers Birath is crooked. Quis owning land out there should raise some eyebrows. Any of our elected officials not speaking out about this should not be re-elected. If pockets are being padded as John said makes you wonder if The Pilot is too because they won’t report it. Don’t know why the sheriff isn’t looking into any of this. I heard the school is using a company being investigated in South Carolina. Only corrupt people use corrupt companies. A lot going wrong around here.

  4. All of it just feels deceptive and corrupt starting with the bond campaign. I wish we had recall elections in Moore County or perhaps just one person willing to come forward and tell the truth.

  5. The people supporting this do not have kids going to the school. Crazy ‘blogger’ on Facebook keeps saying this is about people not wanting their kids rubbing against brown skin. That’s such a low life comment. Pediatricians are even defending this land. They just want to push their agenda and hide behind name calling. None of these people care about kids. The military lady thinks military kids will be fine because they are used to being moved. That’s why so many of us are going private just to have stability for our kids. I think anyone that thinks this location is safe should be required to send their kids there or work there. If it is such a good idea then why not?

    1. This is the second comment written FOR a Kimberly M. I AM THE REAL Kimberly M and I wish someone would stop posting comments as me. Please administrator verify the above with the email I provided you to reach me.

      My opinions on this subject are my own and I SPEAK them. And yes we are the military family. And yes we have 2 of our 4 children going to private school but I did NOT wrote those comments and I dont appreciate being used.

  6. The answer is simple, more school choice. Bring in more private schools and charter schools. Parents need more options.

  7. The entire thing is one big disaster. They make up their rules as they go. Policy, WHAT POLICY? Moore County has always had a bit of corruption but now they are doing it right out in the open because they know they can just brush it off as parents upset about redistricting. It’s the only thing that the board of ed planned perfectly. Make horrendous decisions, throw away money, pad pockets, redistrict based on race, silence and intimidate the very people that voted them in and these are real issues but it’s just too easy to ignore them and call the parents racist and entitled.
    The commissioners meeting coming up this week will be packed with the same faces. KK and her OneMoore Mob. They will use students to beg for money. The same old Drs wife will get up
    and read an entire scripted piece all the while never mentioning that her kids go to private school. I’m with John, I hope the commissioners tell them all to p**s off. They will probably cave though just so they aren’t stalked and harassed by the mob. Wash, rinse, repeat. 2020 better have some better candidates.

  8. If the BoC doesn’t put their foot down, they WILL be voted out. Plain and simple. Listen up, we are pissed and not going to continue to stay quiet! I don’t give a damn about redistricting. What I do care about is a BoE who thinks they are untouchable and are controlled by one man and not their constituents. I also care that this damn BoC step up! Stop drinking the koolaid and WAKE UP! Who the hell is in charge around here? It’s a zoo, a circus, a complete shit show. The Bob Squad DO NOT control this town. LEADERS: LISTEN UP! take back control or I will personally not rest until each of you are voted out and leaders with backbones who are willing to stand up to the mom mob are voted in. Oh and guess what? I’m a mom. But I educate myself and form my own opinion that isnt laced with rainbows and unicorns. Get real people. Wake up!

  9. Just to clear up a few things…

    1. The school system is audited frequently. I can provide the link to the last article if anyone is interested…or you know, they can use Google.

    2. The start-up costs of McDeeds Creek could NOT be added to the construction budget. State laws on how money from each pot is spent.

    3. The BoE can NOT raise anyone’s taxes, only the BoC can do that. Also there was AMPLE warning a property tax increase was coming with the school bonds. The BoC put a tax calculator on the county website, a mailer was put in county utility bills, and it was warned about by our county manager for TWO YEARS before the bonds went on the ballot.

    4. If you are truly concerned about the AES site, email the BoC and ask them to provide money for a phase two study.

    5. Interesting that this article clearly shows the BoC were active and informed supporters of buying this land, but no one here is holding THEM accountable.

    My name is Cheryl Christy-Bowman, you know the “crazy, low” life blogger. I don’t want there to be any confusion as to who wrote this comment.

    1. Quick question since you defend the BoE and condemn the BoC: who’s responsibility would it have been to budget for and request the phase 2 study from day one and at any point through the process. I’m guessing it was the responsibility of MCS and BoE.

      1. Interesting that you consider holding the BoC accountable for their decisions “condemning” them.

        All of the environmental information was available and discussed in open
        BoE and BoC meetingss before the land was ever purchased. At the time, I asked for and received documentation and was personally satisfied. So I am not condemning either the BoE or the BoC. However, if you are going to blame the BoE, it seems strange that the BoC is getting a pass.

        Also, since the BoC controls the money, they are the only ones who can appropriate money for the study now, so it makes sense to email them and ask them for it.

        1. I am confused. If you were satisfied with the documentation that you received at the time why are you telling everyone that you agree that a phase 2 study is necessary now? Were you satisfied until you actually read the information recently or did you request a phase 2 study at the time of purchase even though you were satisfied?

          1. I was satisfied without the phase 2 study…still am PERSONALLY. But I recognize that many are not, and they deserve answers

            Unlike the REAL mob, I have the ability to see the other side of every equation.

  10. No – There was no mention at ALL of the land being contaminate before the purchase. John Birath gave a really good and professional presentation about the land. It was actually interesting and covered every detail.

    Oh – Except one. He forgot to mention the land was between two pesticide dump sites. I’ve watched the video three times.

    Now – The real question is – WHY? Why take even the slightest chance? These are children. They have no say.

    Liberal bob mob = Identity politics.

    No matter how clear the facts – The mob goes with Bob

    The mob’s argument never answers this question.

  11. Birath said the land was cheap and that’s all he said. I was at that damn meeting and he never mentioned anything about it. I even brought it to his attention after the meeting and he got flustered. Anyone saying that he disclosed the truth is a liar just like him and the rest of the board of education.

  12. DPI and EPA guidelines 100% ignored by our BoE. 100% ignored. Bow do people voting on school sites not even know the guidelines? Further more, where us common sense? Why does Pinehurst get a school in thecmiddoe of their beautiful community, Southern Pines across from a lovely and convenient shopping center and four lane road and MC Deeds in picturesque horse country all while Aberdeen is in the middle of trucks, trains, dirt, gravel, industry but hey, it was cheap right? 9 times cheaper than So. Pines. MCS spent 9 TIMES more money on the kids in the next town. How is this ok?

  13. Something is seriously going on with the management of Moore County Schools and it stinks for the parents, taxpayers, and kids who all call this our home!! No oversight by the Board of Education, a mob mentality, and a lack of transparency have created a mess!! At this point, why would we trust their ability to make good decisions for any of our kids? Investigate!! Investigate!! Investigate!!

Comments are closed.