May 30, 2014
NCCAT again facing an uncertain future
By CATHERINE KOZAK
of impending doom – again - for the North Carolina Center for the
Advancement of Teaching have been alleviated for now with funds for the
program provided in the proposed state Senate budget bill.
almost 30-year-old professional learning program for pre K-12 educators
in the state, held at campuses on Ocracoke Island and at Cullowhee, had
not been included in Gov. Pat McCrory’s recommended budget, released
prior to the Senate proposal.
“It’s very encouraging to me,
the fact that we’re in it,” NCCAT interim executive director
Richard Thompson said on Thursday. “It could have been taken out
Thompson said that the proposed 2014-2015 Senate
budget bill includes $3.2 million in non-recurring funds, the same as
last year’s appropriation. Initially, last year’s budget also had
Before this year’s budget is final, it must be
reconciled with the House budget, approved by both chambers and signed
by the governor. In the process, Thompson said, the funds could be
increased, decreased, left as-is, or eliminated altogether. But he said
that there is support for NCCAT in both the Senate and the House, so he
said he is “cautiously optimistic.”
State Rep. Paul
Tine, a Democrat whose district includes Hyde County, said that it is
too soon to make predictions about the House budget. It could take two
weeks or more, he said, until it has a proposed spending plan nailed
“There are so many moving parts right now,” he said. “We should know better next week how things are looking.”
funds were not provided for NCCAT, the western campus that opened
in1985 would be absorbed by nearby Western Carolina University,
Thompson said. But the fate of the Ocracoke campus would be less
After the Coast Guard vacated the Ocracoke station in
1996, the three-story, 17,000-square-foot station was virtually
neglected for about five years. When the 1.55-acre property and
buildings were transferred from the federal government to the state,
the understanding was that the site would be used for educational
Thompson said that the station could also be used by
the state for transportation or environmental purposes. Otherwise,
ownership would revert back to the federal government.
state-funded $7 million renovation remade the interior space with 24
bedrooms, conference rooms and dining areas, while maintaining the
authentic appearance of the 1940 station. The campus opened for its
first seminar in 2007.
Perched on the edge of Silver Lake
Harbor with Pamlico Sound in its backyard and a view of the village in
its front, the building is considered prime real estate, and villagers
were happy that NCCAT took it over. But it has proven to be one of
those neighbors that have kept its distance from village life.
Fletcher, the Hyde County commissioner from Ocracoke, said he has not
heard anyone mention any concern about the future of the NCCAT campus.
Not that residents don’t appreciate the business the teachers bring to
the island stores, or the outside exposure for the island, he
“Everybody thinks it’s an asset to the island,” he said.
Whatever the state decides, Fletcher said, the building should remain occupied.
need to do something to keep it up and make it a useful facility,” he
said. “It’s a valuable piece of property. It doesn’t need to sit
As a condition of funding in the proposed Senate bill,
NCCAT must provide performance measure results and recommendations to
improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the program, in addition to
updating its report submitted last year to the legislature.
McCrory’s budget proposal was released with no funding for NCCAT, a
petition was started asking the governor and the legislative leaders to
fund the program, which they say gives more than 1,000 thousand
educators a year the support and resources they need to be effective in
the classroom. As of Friday, more than 1,900 people had signed.
I teach a specialty subject –music – there is often no budget or time
allotted for in-service training appropriate for my discipline,” wrote
one signer, Dorlene Evans from Kill Devil Hills. “NCCAT provided the
single-most, significant professional development in my area I have
attended in 35 years of teaching.”
In 2011, NCCAT’s budget was
slashed 50 percent, resulting in scaled-down programming that is now
primarily focused on digital learning, beginning teacher support,
teacher leadership and teacher effectiveness.
employs a total of 45 positions, Thompson said, although not are all
filled. Of those, 10 are allocated for Ocracoke, which also
shares resources with Cullowhee.