Wednesday, February 14, 2024

Governor Cooper Tours Southern Alamance High School in Graham, Highlights How Strong Public Schools Make Strong Communities Gov. Cooper Declared 2024 as “The Year of Public Schools”

Today, Governor Roy Cooper visited Southern Alamance High School as part of “The Year of Public Schools” education tour.
Feb 14, 2024

Today, Governor Roy Cooper visited Southern Alamance High School as part of “The Year of Public Schools” education tour. The Governor was joined by teachers, students, local and state education leaders and local elected officials as he highlighted the outstanding work being done at Southern Alamance High School and Alamance-Burlington School System public schools and the ways that public education is strengthening North Carolina’s communities.

The Governor again called for fully funding K-12 education as well as meaningful investments in early childhood education and teacher pay in the upcoming legislative session. The Governor also called for a stop to state spending on vouchers for unaccountable and unregulated private schools until North Carolina’s public schools are fully funded.

“The public schools in Alamance County and across the state are preparing North Carolina’s students for successful careers in everything from agriculture to advanced manufacturing,” said Governor Cooper. “It’s critical for the future of our state that we make meaningful investments in public education. I encourage North Carolinians to let their legislators, local elected officials and candidates running for office know just how important our public schools are.”

“We are committed to giving every student access to high-quality learning experiences that will prepare them for future success in higher education, careers, and life,” said Alamance-Burlington School System Superintendent Dr. Dain Butler. “Career and Technical education programs, like FFA here at Southern High, are an essential part of that preparation. Through hands-on learning in agriculture, horticulture, animal science, leadership, and more, students gain practical real-world skills and experience. These skills will serve them tremendously whether they choose to pursue higher education or enter the workforce directly after graduation.”

“Southern Alamance High School has experienced major growth and development over the last several years,” said Southern Alamance High School Principal Kristy Mills. “Our current enrollment is 1,126 and we offer a variety of courses, programs, pathways and partnerships to ensure our students will become successful adults. In addition to academics, we provide students opportunities to join extracurricular activities through our athletics, twenty-five plus clubs and we have one of the largest, most active FFA chapters in the state. Our goal is for each student to have engaging experiences and build positive relationships with their educators.”

Representatives from Hometown Strong were also present at the visit to highlight Southern Alamance High School’s Future Farmers of America chapter, one of the largest such chapters in the state. The school’s FFA chapter won two national competitions last year, becoming just the third-ever school to achieve that distinction. Agriculture is an important part of Alamance County and North Carolina’s economy, and the Southern Alamance FFA program is another great example of how public schools help to prepare students to be ready for the jobs of today and tomorrow.

This year, the Governor will highlight North Carolina’s strong public schools, teachers and staff across the state to show the positive impacts of a well-funded public education system on the state’s economy and communities. The Governor will also spotlight the dangers of underfunding our schools while pouring millions of dollars into an unregulated private school voucher program that sends taxpayer money to private academies.

In Alamance County, 81% of school-aged children attend public schools, and public schools in Alamance County and across the state excel at preparing students for success from cradle to career.

  • The 2023 graduation rate for Alamance-Burlington School System high school students was 85%.
  • In 2023, North Carolina public school students earned more than 325,000 workforce credentials while in high school. Over 6,000 of those workforce credentials were earned by Alamance-Burlington students.
  • North Carolina has the most National Board-certified teachers in the nation – one of the highest recognitions teachers can earn. In the Alamance-Burlington School System, more than 100 teachers are National Board-certified.
  • In 2023, more than one-third of North Carolina high school graduates and 39% of graduates in Alamance-Burlington Schools took a college course for credit while in high school.

However, Republican legislators continue to push policies that undermine and politicize public education. The budget enacted by the legislature last year expanded the private school voucher program by $250 million over the next two years, for a total of $4 billion over the next ten years.

  • Under the expanded voucher program, public schools in Alamance County could lose nearly $4.5 million in state education funding just in the first year of the expanded program. That loss in funding not only impacts students, but also Alamance County’s workforce. Public schools are the second-largest employer in Alamance County.

During his final year as Governor, Gov. Cooper is committed to prioritizing public schools and to hearing from the many communities across the state who know that strong public schools ensure we have strong communities.

Read "The Year of Public Schools" proclamation here.

Read the Governor’s remarks from “The Year of Public Schools” launch event here.


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