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Currituck board nixes Moyock student reassignment plan

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By Reggie Ponder
Staff Writer

Thursday, August 15, 2019

MOYOCK — The Currituck Board of Education rejected this week a controversial proposal to reassign some 60 Moyock Elementary School students to Shawboro Elementary in the wake of overwhelming public opposition.

An estimated 125 people attended a special meeting of the Currituck Board of Education in the Moyock Elementary gym on Monday. Most appeared opposed to school district administrators’ proposal to redraw Moyock Elementary School’s attendance zone to ease overcrowding at the school.

Currituck County Schools Superintendent Mark Stefanik said in his report on enrollment growth at Moyock Elementary School that the school has seen more new enrollments this summer than in previous summers. New enrollments at the school this summer are 37, raising its current enrollment to 582.

Stefanik said the Moyock school’s maximum capacity, based on factors such a state-mandated maximum class sizes in grades K-3, is 638 students.

Stefanik noted that the school board is looking at building a new school, and is currently searching for a suitable piece of property. However, the school district has to take care of students in the meantime, and the best way to do that, he said, is to transfer some to another elementary school.

Stefanik noted that Moyock Elementary School has 30 classrooms, with one dedicated to services for exceptional children.

Parent Joey Weishample took issue with Stefanik’s assertion that school officials had not been twiddling their thumbs.

“I think twiddling your thumbs is exactly what has been going on,” Weishample said. Weishample said school officials have known the Moyock area population was increasing. District data show the school had an enrollment of 516 students in August 2017, 528 students in August 2018, and now 582 students.

“And now two weeks before school starts y’all are getting ready to make a move,” Weishample said. “I don’t think that’s right at all.”

Board member Bill Dobney, who explained that he had missed the board’s last meeting for medical reasons, said he considered it “ludicrous” that the board was even considering changing boundary lines for school attendance districts two weeks before school starts.

The comment drew loud applause from the audience.

Dobney, who noted he was a former superintendent of Currituck County Schools and a former principal at Moyock Elementary, said he knows there are spaces at the school that could be converted into classrooms to accommodate the rapid growth in enrollment.

“I’m for ‘let’s just study this for next year,’” Dobney said.

Board member Janet Rose said the board would look at all options, including staying put and just being a bit crowded for a while.

Jason Pryor, another parent, said he and many other parents have already made arrangements for before- and after-school care.

“Like the gentleman said, it’s ridiculous,” Pryor said, referring to Dobney.

Parent Kristin Nichols urged the board to consider the impact reassignment could have on students, including long bus rides.

“These are real people,” Nichols said. After a number of parents had voiced their concerns, Board of Education Chairwoman Karen Etheridge thanked the audience for attending the meeting and speaking up.

“We appreciate everyone coming out tonight,” she said.

Etheridge then made a motion to keep the boundary lines for Moyock Elementary School the same for the 2019-20 school year. The motion passed unanimously.

Currituck County Manager Ben Stikeleather and County Commissioners Paul Beaumont, Owen Etheridge and Kevin McCord also attended the meeting.

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