NEWS RELEASES 2011-12 :: DECEMBER 1, 2011


State Superintendent June Atkinson this morning formally presented the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction’s (NCDPI) plan to consolidate administrative services at the state’s three residential schools’ campuses and to designate that the current student population at the Governor Morehead School be served as a satellite of the Eastern North Carolina School for the Deaf. Atkinson will submit the plan to the Joint Legislative Education Oversight Committee by Jan. 15.

North Carolina’s three residential schools are the NC School for the Deaf (Morganton), the Governor Morehead School for the Blind (Raleigh), and the Eastern NC School for the Deaf (Wilson). The schools serve approximately 220 students.

The Department’s plan was in response to a directive by the North Carolina General Assembly in its Appropriations Act of 2011 to close one residential school and consolidate services at the remaining two residential schools, and then to carry out the plan effective July 1, 2012. The residential schools were officially transferred from the NC Department of Health and Human Services to the NCDPI on June 1.

Atkinson noted in her report that she will seek approval from the Department of Administration and from her fellow Council of State members to lease a large percentage of the current Governor Morehead School property to another education entity and would recommend department staff use empty or under-utilized facility space at the Morganton and Wilson campuses for other educational needs.

“The plan I’ve outlined will reduce operational costs, eliminate renovation costs to serve visually impaired students at one of the schools for the deaf, and make more effective use of the under-utilized space at all of the campuses,” Atkinson said. “I consider this a win-win situation for the 47 students now being served at the Governor Morehead campus as well as the students on the other campuses.”

The Department’s plan was the culmination of efforts of a core committee of agency staff members who gathered information and public input from an online survey and three public hearings. Atkinson said that although the law did not require public input, the group felt that it was important to hear from those most affected, especially in evaluating the historical and cultural significance of each school and in considering how to best minimize disruptions and maximize learning for students and families. Approximately 1,700 people attended the three hearings and almost 1,000 responses were submitted through the online survey.

The Department’s plan also was based on the following five considerations as outlined in legislation:

  • minimization of the impact on services to deaf and blind students currently served by the residential schools;
  • minimization of costs of modifications at the two remaining schools to accommodate students from the closed school;
  • maximization of funds generated or net savings to the state from costs avoided due to the closure of one school and the sale or transfer to other state agencies of the school campus and other physical assets;
  • minimization of required travel for students of the school that is closed; and
  • historical and cultural significance of the school.

Atkinson initially presented the Department’s plan (doc, 227kb) during a news conference held Nov. 21. For more information, please contact the NCDPI’s Communications division at 919.807.3450.

About the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction:
The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction provides leadership to 115 local public school districts and 160 charter schools serving over 1.5 million students in kindergarten through high school graduation. The agency is responsible for all aspects of the state's public school system and works under the direction of the North Carolina State Board of Education.

For more information:
NCDPI Communication and Information Division, 919.807.3450.