- The North Carolina General Assembly approved a budget cut for $3.7 million
- More than 60 percent of the budget cuts will affect education programs
- The North Carolina Governor’s School program and North Carolina Teaching Fellows scholarship programs are two of the programs that will be most deeply affected by the budget cuts.
This article was written by Amy Taylor and Katie Miller, of West Henderson High School’s Wingspan Online
Seniors planning to apply for N.C. Teaching Fellows scholarships and juniors who want to attend the N.C. Governor’s School next summer may be disappointed. In July the N.C. General Assembly approved a state budget that cuts both programs.
A shortfall in tax revenues led state legislators to pass a budget with more than $3.7 billion in cuts. More than 60 percent of those cuts came in the areas related to education.
Students have always received things such as agendas and driver’s education without having to worry about the cost. This year, the student body will be expected to pay a $5 fee for their agenda and a $45 fee if they plan on attending driver’s ed. In addition, there may be a fee for attendance make-up sessions.
Cuts included an $850,000 allocation for the N.C. Governor’s School program. Students selected to attend the 48-year-old program will now have to pay a $500 fee, and the number of students accepted to the program may be cut. Supporters of the Governor’s School have raised more than $135,000 in contributions to help fund the program next summer, the Charlotte Observer reported
“When we learned that the program was not getting any funding from the state, we were incredibly depressed and sad that it had to happen, but we weren’t going to give up,” senior Anna Decker said. Decker attended the 2011 Governor’s School East in theater arts.
“We instantly started fundraisers and advertising and tried to get people to donate,” Decker said. “One day we went out and did charity work in our Governor’s School shirts. That day we also called some Governor’s School alumni, and they donated a lot of money. Thankfully, there is going to be a Governor’s School 2012.”
In past years, about 600 students attend either Governor’s School East located at the Meredith College in Raleigh or Governor’s School West located at Salem College in Winston-Salem. The program is a six-week residential program for academically and artistically gifted students.
The N.C. Teaching Fellows program was also eliminated from the state budget.
For the past 25 years, the program has awarded renewable $6,500 scholarships to 500 college freshmen committed to teaching careers in the state.
N.C. Speaker of the House Thom Tillis has publically said he is rethinking the decision, saying that educators and advocates of the program have convinced him that Teaching Fellows should continue, but he has taken no steps to fund the program for this year’s high school seniors.
“I have heard from enough teachers and enough superintendents and enough advocates that I am convinced that we have got to find a way to bridge it back,” Tillis said at a Wilmington town hall meeting. “I am convinced it’s a good program.”
Eighty-four percent of those who graduate from the program remain in teaching after the required four years.
According to Principal Dean Jones, doing away with the program will be disadvantageous to areas of the state that are considered high-risk. “Those who have a calling to teach are still going to go into the profession. However, what will hurt us is that Teaching Fellows graduates many times are able to align themselves with at-risk school districts, places where it’s hard to recruit and retain teachers,” Jones said. “Often they go into those areas and commit four years to the teaching profession. There are many districts that are low wealth, and I think those areas are going to be affected.”
The N.C. House and Senate must come to agreement about the cut by the end of the fiscal year on June 30, 2012.
“I hate that we will not be able to continue the program if indeed the legislators decide that we will not have the funds to help prospective teachers further their interest in education,” Jones said. “I think there will be some teachers that decide not to take that path because of this, but teaching is a calling. How many teachers do you see bailing out even though we haven’t had a raise in two or three years? Most are still in the profession because it’s a calling. But, certainly, we have to live too.”
Editor: Anna Hall, Intercollegiate Online News Network