Education

Wake schools' lease plan would keep Morehead School open

Posted February 7, 2012

Map Marker  Find News Near Me

— The Wake County Public School System has agreed to lease space at the Governor Morehead School for the Blind in a deal that will allow the school to remain open, officials said Tuesday.

Three residential schools serve about 220 visually and hearing disabled students in North Carolina, and state budget cuts mandated that one of the three schools close by July.

The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction in November announced plans to turn the Governor Morehead School into a satellite operation of the Eastern North Carolina School for the Deaf and consolidate the administration of the two schools in Wilson.

Superintendent of Public Instruction June Atkinson said the Raleigh campus, which dates to 1845, is underutilized, and leasing space would bring in a "substantial" amount for the state and achieve the cost structure lawmakers sought when they proposed closing one of the three schools.

Wake County schools is prepared to lease two of the seven buildings on the Governor Morehead School campus, Superintendent Tony Tata told members of a legislative oversight committee on Tuesday.

"For this coming year, I would like to put 300 students in the Governor Morehead School," Tata said, adding that he would ensure that the district's operations don't adversely affect the education of the blind students on campus.

The district and the state still need to hammer out a formal agreement, and the Wake County Board of Education and the legislative oversight committee would have to sign off on it.

"We believe that it's a win-win situation for our students who are served by the Governor Morehead School," Atkinson said. "It's a win-win situation for Wake County. They need space; we have space."

Governor Morehead School for the Blind sign Money from leases would lower costs for blind, deaf schools

James Benton Sr., who graduated from the Governor Morehead School, said he worries that the school will lose its identity. But what's important is that it remains open, he said.

"We think that is an excellent, excellent proposal, and it should be adopted ... for all three campuses," Benton said. "There's a lot of space there that's public space – state-owned property – that needs to be utilized."

Talk of closing or merging the schools to save money has arisen during budget shortfalls as far back as 2001, but spirited support from students and families helped keep them open. In 2010, the schools cut costs by $1 million, including cutting pay, having students return later from weekends at home and dropping charter bus services.

Supporters for the Governor Morehead School and the Eastern North Carolina School for the Deaf, as well as the North Carolina School for the Deaf in Morganton, have argued that students should be able to stay where they are most comfortable and that many of them have other special needs and disabilities that made it difficult to have success in their local school districts.

9 Comments

This story is closed for comments.

Oldest First
View all
  • wtrskitiger Feb 8, 2012

    These students have more disabilities than being deaf or blind. I have taught special classes there and these children need this setting. This school is very very valuable. I do not have children there nor am I financially involved. I am just a bystander who has a connection with these kids and GMS is an awesome place. It would be extremely difficult for these kids to even be put into a special ed course in a regular public school. What many people are missing is that these kids are not just deaf or blind, they have many other learning disabilities.

  • ezLikeSundayMorning Feb 8, 2012

    I'm torn on the schools for deaf or blind students. On one hand they can be taught specific skills that they will need (braille for example) in a group. On the other hand, they really need to learn to integrate and being deaf or blind should not prevent them from doing well in regular schools. Perhaps an intnsive 1-3 year program and then off to regular school with assistance as needed.

  • westernwake1 Feb 8, 2012

    "I also saw on TV that he is going to spend 25,000 school bond money for computers or something. This man is going to end up in serious financial trouble. I am a former school finance director and he cannot spend bond money for anything other than school construction. The school and the county is going to end up in serious financial trouble unless he learns the rules." - superman

    This is not correct. The money from Wake School Bond issues can be used for construction or technology in the class room. The information on the bonds even listed out how much money had to be spent on technology and how much was to be spent on construction. For a "former school finance director", you still have a lot to learn. Clearly Tata and the Wake County school system is following the rules.

  • weasel2 Feb 8, 2012

    At cost of over $100,000.00 per year per student, a simpler solution would be to hire private tutors for about $40k and close the school

  • mgratk Feb 7, 2012

    Some accuse the government of turning a blind eye on these students, but the truth is that many people just can't see spending a lot of dough on just a few students. The sight of ever-increasing tax bills makes many of us sick-- that should be blindingly obvious. Yet some educators can't see the forest for the trees.

  • Mr. French Feb 7, 2012

    I'm all for saving the Governor Morehead School for the Blind, but what about this little item I read in this morning's N&O:

    "Wake County taxpayers have been paying more than $20,000 a month to maintain three vacant Raleigh office buildings that school officials have had limited success in trying to sell.

    "Wake County taxpayers have been paying more than $20,000 a month to maintain three vacant Raleigh office buildings that school officials have had limited success in trying to sell."

    So, they have buildings sitting vacant while they're getting ready to pay someone else rent. ???

  • superman Feb 7, 2012

    I thought I read recently that he is going to have a 30 million shortfall in federal grants. Where is he going to get the money. Does he have a money tree? I also saw on TV that he is going to spend 25,000 school bond money for computers or something. This man is going to end up in serious financial trouble. I am a former school finance director and he cannot spend bond money for anything other than school construction. The school and the county is going to end up in serious financial trouble unless he learns the rules.

  • westernwake1 Feb 7, 2012

    A good deal for the students, Wake, and the state.

  • momeeee Feb 7, 2012

    Thank goodness!