The Office of Congressman G. K. Butterfield (D-N.C.) today released a letter Representatives Butterfield and Walter Jones (R-N.C.) wrote to State Superintendent Dr. June St. Clair Atkinson regarding the potential closure of the Eastern North Carolina School for the Deaf. In their letter, the Congressmen, which together represent the entire City of Wilson, expressed great concern over the school's closure and urged the Department of Public Instruction to keep the school open.
"We are deeply concerned about the negative impacts this closure would have on North Carolina's hearing impaired community," said Representatives Butterfield and Jones. "Closure of the school would be a major blow to the City of Wilson, which has hosted the school for nearly 50 years. In your evaluation of the school, we ask that you take into account the unique nature of the school in its method of instruction, and the impact it has had on countless individuals in this state."
The full letter follows.
Honorable June St. Clair Atkinson, Ed. D.
Department of Public Instruction
North Carolina Education Building
6301 Mail Service Center
Raleigh, North Carolina 27699-6301
Dear Superintendent Atkinson:
We write today regarding the potential closure of the Eastern North Carolina School for the Deaf (ENCSD) located in Wilson, North Carolina. We are deeply concerned about the negative impacts this closure would have on North Carolina's hearing impaired community. Closure of the school would be a major blow to the City of Wilson, which has hosted the school for nearly 50 years. In your evaluation of the school, we ask that you take into account the unique nature of the school in its method of instruction, and the impact it has had on countless individuals in this state.
The ENCSD is a residential public school for the education of deaf or hard of hearing children. It is dually accredited by the Conference of Education Administrators Serving the Deaf and by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. The School was established in 1964 and is located in the City of Wilson, which we have the privilege of representing in Congress.
The Department of Public Instruction (DPI) has recently been charged with the responsibility for the ENSCD as well as the other public residential schools. Additionally, the current budget requires DPI to recommend one of the residential schools for closure, using the following criteria:
* Minimization of impact on services to deaf and blind students currently served by the residential schools;
* Minimization of costs of modifications at the two remaining residential schools to accommodate students from the closed school;
* Maximization of funds generated or net savings to the state from costs avoided due to the closure of one school and the sale or transfer to other state agencies of the school campus and other physical assets;
* Minimization of required travel for students of the school that is closed;
* Historical and cultural significance of the school.
Making this recommendation is certainly not an enviable task. The other residential schools certainly provide valuable instruction to children with special needs and gifts. However, we are confident that maintaining ENCSD in the coming years will best fit the criteria that DPI has been charged with applying.
ENCSD serves 75 students from over half of the counties in North Carolina, and a closure would have a huge impact on the services available to these children. With respect to the facility, DPI has evaluated ENCSD to be in great physical shape, with excellent technology available to the students. ENCSD has available capacity at Eagles Hall to accommodate additional students with at minimal additional cost. ENCSD's close proximity to Raleigh, its accessibility on both Interstate 95 and U.S. Highway 264, and its existing transportation network would make it an ideal choice to minimize travel for additional students.
Lastly, ENCSD is deeply ensconced in the community. In its 50 year history, it has developed lasting ties with Barton College, local vendors, and the hundreds of deaf families that call Wilson home. It is clear to us that this school has made an invaluable impact on thousands of people throughout North Carolina, and should continue to build upon its strong foundation of education and community involvement. We respectfully urge you not to close this school.
If you have further questions regarding our interest in this matter, please do not hesitate to contact our offices.
Thank you very much.
Very Truly Yours,