As tax hike war-drums beat in Moore County, important questions go un-asked, unanswered

Two years ago, there was some serious drama and boo-hooing over the Moore County School Board’s attempt to fire superintendent Bob Grimesey. (Grimesey managed to show us a few on-camera tears, too.)

Since being re-instated, Grimesey has presided over — with a supportive Greek chorus in The Pilot’s newsroom — an unprecedented disinformation-laden PR campaign that would make Saul Alinsky, Hillary Clinton, and Barack Obama proud.

Sure, Moore County edu-crats have been caught playing fast and loose with the facts before. Previous superintendents have gone before the county commissioners, hat in hand, claiming to be suffering from a budgetary crisis. Meanwhile, the system’s financials were showing that the school system was regularly being over-funded annually by about TWO MILLION DOLLARS.

But Grimesey has taken this sideshow to a new level.  He’s scared the public and his own employees to death with threats of classroom staff cuts and resource cutbacks.  If the county commissioners don’t raise property taxes, he and his allies say, the lil’ chil’ren will suffer.  

Never mind that the county has regularly gone above and beyond what law requires them to fund.  Never mind that Moore County is much more generous to its schools than other counties are to theirs.  More money HAS to be siphoned from our wallets.

All kinds of studies have shown that a sales tax will provide more revenue to the schools.  And THAT MONEY can’t be diverted — like increased property tax revenue can. 

None of that matters to the sycophants on the county board of education and in The Pilot newsroom.  It’s so much easier to nod in agreement and take dictation than to ask hard questions and stand up for the people who depend on you. 

Instead of just blindly accepting educrat claims that nothing can be cut and taxes must be raised, let’s consider a few things:

  1. Moore County is one of just two North Carolina school systems that has its own police force. Mecklenburg — which includes Charlotte — is the other. How do the other 98 county school systems function without their own police force?  I bet they work with their sheriffs and local police departments. This is clearly a luxury that carries with it quite a lot of liability along with the expense for labor and equipment.  Why not look at cutting this expense before threatening classroom personnel? 
  2. Moore County schools has so many administrators that it has TWO central offices.   Most people don’t realize that — in addition to the one on 15-501 in Carthage — there is another “offsite central office” on the grounds of The Pinckney Academy.   Moore County records indicate the primary central office on 15-501 in Carthage houses 33 employees being paid a combined $1,959,600.12.   According to county records, there are six employees at the 15-501 facility making more than $100,000 per year.  

    Moore County records indicate that the “offsite central office” has 67 employees being paid a combined $3,389,814.14. According to county records, 34 of those 67 employees make $55,000 per year or more. Fourteen employees at the “offsite central office” make $70,000 per year or more.  Three of the “offsite” employees make $90,000 per year or more.   The average salary for a classroom teacher in Moore County is $38,653.  (And THEY are actually having a direct impact on the kids’ education.)

  3. Despite an alleged “budget crisis,” the system is going forward with the multi-million dollar construction of an “Advanced Career Center.”    On the face of it, this appears to duplicate a lot of what is already being done on the campus of Sandhills Community College.  The new school, which will be built on the college campus, will focus on allowing high school kids to earn college credit — something already being done in the existing college facilities.
  4. Where is the money going? We get all kinds of reports statewide about educrats accepting money for one purpose, and using it for another.  We regularly get sob stories from Moore County educrats about being cash-strapped. Yet, we’re kept in the dark about just how our money is being spent.  Sure, they hand out something they call an audit.  There are audits of financial statements, and then there are serious forensic audits that confirm X funds actually went to pay for X.  We NEED the second one, desperately. 

We count on our elected board of education to watch out for our interests, and our kids interests.  We count on our local drive by media to keep an eye on government officials and others who may try to hoodwink us and abuse our trust.  We in Moore County are being poorly served on both counts.