02/16/09 — WCPS will debut new cable television channel

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WCPS will debut new cable television channel

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on February 16, 2009 1:46 PM

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Ken Derksen, left, public information officer with Wayne County Public Schools, and Gene Jackson, instructional technology specialist, discuss programming for the district's education access channel, WCEA, which will begin broadcasting Wednesday.

At long last, Wayne County Public Schools' education access channel, WCEA, will soon be on the air.

For several years, the possibility has eluded officials, with red tape from several directions tying up efforts. Through the city of Goldsboro's franchise agreement with Time Warner Cable, things began to turn around. In recent weeks, the educational channel made it to the roster of TV listings that scrolls across the cable screen.

But nothing was being broadcast. Until now.

Officials will hold a "throwing of the switch" ceremony on Feb. 18 at 11 a.m. at the district's administrative offices on Royall Avenue, at which time the channel will officially be on.

Time Warner Cable subscribers will be able to access the county's first education access Channel 18, featuring news from the public schools as well Wayne Community College.

Recent efforts have included working to test the channel as well as video programs and slides.

WCEA will be managed and operated by Wayne County Public Schools. Through the district's educational partnerships, an "Education Alliance" with Wayne Community College and Seymour Johnson AFB (through the Military Child Education Coalition) will allow additional educational programming to be offered.

"This is an exciting opportunity for our local schools, our students and their families, as well as the community at large," said Dr. Steven Taylor, WCPS Superintendent. "The Wayne County Education Alliance Channel, or WCEA Channel, is an innovative way for the school district to offer programming geared towards helping boost academic achievement for students."

Expressing gratitude for the city's support, Taylor said the outlet will extend beyond educational programming, as it keeps the community informed about educational events throughout the school system.

"I am glad that the city's franchise agreement includes provisions that make this effort by the Wayne County Public School system possible," said Joe Huffman, Goldsboro City Manager.

Dr. Kay Albertson, president of Wayne Community College, called the education channel a great tool for partners in education as well as the public and those marketing the community to potential employers and residents.

"Wayne Community College is most appreciative of this gift to us, our fellow educational institutions and the people of Wayne County," she said.

Besides airing some programming for the college, the district will also provide educational programming that will benefit the local military community.

"Since 2004, our school district has been partnered with Seymour Johnson Air Force Base in the Military Child Education Coalition. With over 2,000 military dependents enrolled in our schools, students and staff can benefit from programming that deals with military issues such as deployments, homecomings, and moving transitions," Taylor said.

Col. William Thomas Jr. commander of 4th Mission Support Group, said the families and children of the base will benefit greatly from programs and information broadcast on WCEA.

"This is another extraordinary effort by the local community that supports the families of our men and women in uniform," he said.

Another feature of the TV channel will be the ability to broadcast in Spanish, to keep pace with the rising Hispanic population.

"Few issues are more important to our customers and to the communities we serve than education. That's why Time Warner Cable's main focus has always been to support education in our communities," says Sammy Roberson, Time Warner Cable director of government and public affairs.

At the outset, a specific schedule has not been finalized, said Ken Derksen, public information officer for the school system. Eventually, programming is expected to be posted on the district Website. The plan, he added, is for school board meetings, school programs and events to be part of the lineup.

"There are a lot of possibilities. We're just looking at where the needs are as far as what educational areas we want to focus on," he said.