Jenny Scarborough

State budget cuts could close down NCCAT, which employs 10 Ocracoke residents full time.

NCCAT Funding in Jeopardy
NPS photo

The Ocracoke branch of the North Carolina Center for the Advancement of Teaching opened in the former US Coast Guard Station in 2007, after a $7 million renovation.

NCCAT provides professional development for public school educators, and training and support for teachers at the beginning of their careers.

In the currently proposed budget, there is no funding at all for either the Ocracoke or Western NCCAT campus. The Cullowhee campus, open since 1985, would be absorbed by Western Carolina University. There are no plans for the future of the Ocracoke property.

Three of the original 13 positions on Ocracoke were lost due to reduced funding. Most of the other ten employees "have been here the whole time," said Facilities Coordinator Regina O'Neal.

The NCCAT budget was cut an additional 50% two years ago. The site began hosting meetings and conferences to generate additional revenues. With fewer teachers visiting Ocracoke for seminars, Center Fellow Alton Ballance began delivering teacher trainings in the field.

"We are taking action and actively pursuing our supporters," said O'Neal, who is "optimistic" the facility can remain open.

Teachers in training at a seminar.
Teachers in training at a seminar.
NCCAT photo

School superintendents and teachers from across the state are reminding legislators of the value they see in the program. Island businesses are being asked to sign a letter endorsing continued funding for NCCAT.

NC residents are invited to learn more and to consider signing this petition in support of NCCAT.

O'Neal encourages citizens to also contact members of the Education Appropriations Committee.

The North Carolina Coastal Federation's Coastal Review recently published a Katherine Kozak article, which explores the issue in greater depth.