04/08/08 — Wayne County schools will add new educational access channel

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Wayne County schools will add new educational access channel

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on April 8, 2008 2:07 PM

Wayne County Public Schools is closer to having an educational access TV channel, possibly as soon as the fall.

Olivia Pierce, executive director of community relations, media and technology, updated the Board of Education Monday night on what will be Channel 18 on the cable dial.

Discussion began several years ago but had stalled on acquiring access through the county.

The district's best option to date, Mrs. Pierce said, turned out to be the current access agreement between Time Warner and the City of Goldsboro.

The existing franchise agreement being used by the city has specific language for an education access channel, she explained.

"Now we have determined it would be better, because the city is still under the old franchise law, which doesn't end until 2018," she said.

If approved, the channel would provide coverage from Fremont to Mount Olive, Mrs. Pierce said.

"Ken Derksen (the schools' public information officer) and I met with the city council" to discuss activating Channel 18, serving as an educational access channel, she said. She added that the city manager has since met with Time Warner, with a positive reaction toward making a channel available for that purpose.

Now, it's just a matter of making it official.

"If the city agrees, Wayne County Education Alliance Channel could be up and running by the start of the next school year," Mrs. Pierce told the board.

"WCEA" would offer non-commercial programming, promoting educational events and information on the variety of programs in the district, as well as pertinent issues, such as No Child Left Behind and testing.

"We have long felt that an education access channel would enhance our ability to let the community know what's happening in our 33 schools," she said. Other school districts already operating similar channels, she noted, include Lenoir, New Hanover and Dare counties, as well as Durham city schools.

"We're excited about a dream held since 1989 may finally become a reality," she said.

"Hallelujah!" Thelma Smith, school board chairwoman, said at the conclusion of Mrs. Pierce's announcement. "This is really an answer to our prayers. We have talked about being able to communicate with the public."

There is still much work to be done before the station goes on the air, Mrs. Pierce said. In addition to receiving final approval from the city, there is the acquisition of extra equipment and other details to be completed.

The station will provide an array of possibilities.

In addition to locally-produced programming, there are opportunities at the high school level for students to learn about TV production, as well as through Wayne Community College.

"The (Department of Public Instruction) also puts out programming that they have done," she added. "In addition to some locally produced, we'll be able to use some educational programming that's been made available to us."

Dr. Steven Taylor, superintendent of schools, commended Mrs. Pierce for her efforts to bring the TV station closer to fruition.

"We have worked long and hard for many years. We're ready to move as soon as we can get (approval)," he said. "It's just been a very complicated process, more complicated than we dreamed but our folks have worked diligently to get this in place.