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Budget: Close Elizabeth City State
N.C. Senate proposal targets 'unprofitable' campus
 
Published Thursday, May 29, 2014 1:19 pm
by Herbert L. White

The N.C. Senate’s proposed $21 billion budget would have the University of North Carolina system shut down “small, unprofitable” Elizabeth City State University.


ECSU, a historically black school in the northeast corner of the state, reports an enrollment of 2,421, including 2,155 full-time students. Among its students, 1,777 are black, 380 are white, according to the school’s website. North Carolina residents account for 2,163 students and the average SAT score is 889. Entering students have a 3.15 high school grade point average.


The proposal is the latest turn by Republican leaders to trim the UNC system. Last year, Gov. Pat McCrory suggested merging or closing campuses as well as eliminating course offerings to save money. That tone rankled HBCU alumni and supporters who fear the state will target the state’s black colleges, which generally are smaller and perennially underfunded compared to their larger peers.


A study published last month by University of Pennsylvania researchers found that North Carolina’s public black colleges have struggled to keep recover from the recession of 2008, which led to deep cuts in state funding. With a higher proportion of first-generation and low-income students on campus, HBCU enrollments have fallen or remained stagnant over the last five years.


ECSU enrollment has dropped from 3,307 in the 2010-11 academic year to 2,421 in 2013-14.


• The Senate budget would give the state’s classroom teachers an unprecedented 11 percent pay raise if they give up career status, a designation that allows teachers to challenge their firing at a hearing. Republican lawmakers and McCrory pledged earlier this year to commit $200 million to raise early-career teachers’ salaries from $30,800 to $35,000. Public school teachers haven’t had a significant pay boost since 2008 and instructors who opt to keep career status, commonly known as tenure, would remain on the current scale.

About 57,000 of North Carolina’s 100,000 public school teachers have tenure, according to the state Department of Public Instruction, which oversees K-12 education.


A Superior Court judge ruled earlier this month that the state overstepped its authority in stripping employment protections for teachers, commonly known as tenure.


North Carolina’s average teacher salary of $46,000 annually ranks 47th in the U.S. The Senate bill would raise the average to $51, 198 – middle of the pack – according to Senate data.


In addition to cutting UNC funding and adding teacher pay raises, the Senate budget would:


• Slice payments to the Department of Public Instruction;


• Slash driver education funding in 2015;


• Eliminate 300 jobs at the Department of Transportation, many of which are already vacant.

Comments

If the taxpayers could reduce the fat content of the Department of Public Instruction, the pay increases for the teachers and the continuation of teacher assistant jobs could easily be afforded.
Posted on June 2, 2014
 

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