More than two dozen jobs lost at state teaching center

A state teacher-training center based in Cullowhee has slashed half its workforce in the fallout of a nearly 50-percent budget cut by the General Assembly.

The N.C. Center for the Advancement of Teaching went from a state-funded budget of $6.1 million to $3.1 million.

The 25-year institution, which is credited with helping the state to retain teachers by inspiring them through professional development, had 82 full and part-time workers. Thirteen of those are based at NCCAT’s smaller campus in Ocracoke. The final stay-or-leave numbers for that campus are still in flux.

But in Cullowhee, 22 fulltime positions and 11 hourly-contracted positions were eliminated. Additionally, three workers opted to go from fulltime positions to three-quarter time positions, and eight vacant positions are not being filled. Total, including Ocracoke, 35 to 40 positions are being eliminated.

Linda Suggs, chair of NCCAT’s board of trustees, said in a news release that NCCAT will be reorganizing and shifting resources to best serve the teachers and schools of North Carolina.

“This is an opportunity for us to reinvent ourselves while remaining true to our vision of advancing teaching as an art and a profession,” Suggs said at a recent joint meeting of the NCCAT Board of Trustees and the Development Foundation of NCCAT. “We can still impact a large number of teachers with this budget.”

Elaine Franklin, executive director of NCCAT, said a budget cut of this magnitude made a reduction in the size of the organization unavoidable. The organization hopes to raise more in private funds and grants to help offset the losses. NCCAT’s new model will be characterized by a move toward greater diversity in terms of programming content, sources of funding and use of resources, she said.

“During this fiscal year, we will be transitioning to a new model for delivering NCCAT’s mission,” Franklin said.

By reducing the number of week-long residential seminars, where teachers from around the state travel to NCCAT to participate, the center will bring training directly to schools to provide a greater degree of outreach, Franklin said.

“Our goal is to maintain NCCAT’s reputation for high-quality professional development programs and services,” Suggs said, “but to do so in a way that is fiscally sound and supported by educational policy in the twenty-first century.”

— By Quintin Ellison

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