By Peter Vankevich
If the North Carolina General Assembly’s Senate Bill 15 is not passed it could result in a loss of 4.5 teaching positions for Ocracoke School, according to an announcement released Friday by Hyde County.
The bill, An Act To Provide For Teacher Allotments For Geographically Isolated K-12 Schools, is scheduled to be heard in the Senate Education Committee at noon Wednesday (April 19) in Legislative Office Building room 544, Raleigh.
It states that the State Board of Education shall provide additional classroom teachers to schools containing grades kindergarten through 12 when consolidation is not feasible due to the geographic isolation of the school and the school meets at least one of the following criteria for geographic isolation:
(1) The school is located in a local school administrative unit in which the average daily membership is less than 1.5 per square mile.
(2) The school is located in a local school administrative unit for a county containing more than 150,000 acres of national forest owned by the federal government and managed by the U. S. Forest Service pursuant to 15 G.S. 104-5.
“The Isolated School Allotment grants an additional 4.5 teachers to Ocracoke School to supplement the regular allotment so the school will be guaranteed at least one teacher for each grade,” the Hyde announcement said.
“There are no monies available in the Hyde County School budget for the replacement of these allotment dollars if they are lost. The school system has suffered two separate substantial reductions in force in the last four years.”
State Senator Bill Cook (R-District 1), who represents Ocracoke, supports the bill according to Jordan Hennessy, his legislative assistant.
“The Senate is leading in the bi-annual budget process this year, so it appears that it’s an initiative of the Senate,” Hennessy said. Cook is on the Education/Higher Committee. Hennessy did not know if something is in the works on the House side.
If the bill does not become law, Ocracoke would lose five teachers, according to the announcement released Friday.
If that happens, the only option available to the school would be to combine grades on Ocracoke as follows:
Combine grades K and 1; grades 2 and 3; grades 4 and 5; grades 6 and 7 and grades 8 and 9. Ocracoke’s only school contains all grades, pre-K through 12, in one building, and has a total of 188 students.
The members of the committee, including their contact information, can be found here.