COA’s vision includes Dare campus consolidation

By on August 21, 2019

In 1969 the College of the Albemarle (COA) began offering classes at numerous borrowed facilities in Dare County. Today, its Dare County campus is housed in two locations, one on Russell Twiford Road, and the other a little further north off of U.S. Route 64 in what was Manteo Middle School.

Now there are plans for both locales to undergo significant changes as the two campuses are eventually consolidated into one at the U.S. Route 64 location. And while that planning process has begun, at this point, there is no hard timetable for the project.

One potential use for the Twiford Road campus is as a home to the dual-enrollment program that allows local high school students to get an early start on college degrees or a vocational training curriculum. Further down the highway, all the buildings on the U.S. Route 64 campus — with the exception of the campus professional arts building — will be demolished and a new campus will be constructed.

Once that construction is completed, all the programs and services currently provided at the Twiford Road location will be moved to the new facility. The Twiford Road campus will then be leased by COA to Dare County.

“The current Dare Campus on Russell Twiford Road, which houses our 656 curriculum college transfer students, could potentially become an early college program serving Dare County high school students. The early college students would be eligible to enroll in college curriculum and career and technical education programs of study,” said Tim Sweeney, dean of the Dare County campus.

Dare County Manager Bobby Outten said the Twiford Road “property requires minimal renovation and is ready to go.” The early college high school program, he added, “will be a collaboration between COA and the Dare County Schools.”

This program — whose formal name is the Career and College Promise — allows high school students to accelerate completion of college certificates, diplomas, and associate degrees, giving them a head start on college transfer or to begin entry-level jobs upon graduation. Students have the choice of attending classes on campus or online, while finishing their high school diploma. Tuition is free for junior and senior high school students.

With the consolidation of the two campuses, COA is afforded the opportunity to further broaden curriculum offerings to Dare County residents. Expanding the curriculum to address the specific needs of Dare County students has been important to the county as a whole. In November 2017, Dare County Board of Commissioners Chairman, Bob Woodard appointed a six-member task force with the specific function of gathering community input for curriculum ideas for the COA Dare County campus.

The task force held five public meetings where members of the general public, along with business and community leaders, provided input on what specific courses should be offered.

“A regional approach was necessary and the public meetings were a huge success,” said Dare County Commissioner Danny Couch, who also chaired the task force.  That input resulted in the additions to the curriculum incorporating classes in the trades, health care, hospitality, and public safety.

Meanwhile, the need for the razing and replacement of the old Manteo Middle School has been evident for several years.

“When Hurricane Matthew hit in 2016, the Roanoke Island Campus — the former Manteo Middle School — took in a large amount of water, causing mold within the facility that made it unsuitable for classes; functionally inadequate for our instructional needs,” said Dr. Travis Twiford, interim president of COA.

The required funds to replace the buildings arrived in March, when Governor Roy Cooper signed legislation allowing COA to use state bond money for construction and renovation of the campus property.  In line with the legislation, Dare County’s Capital Improvements Plan allots $7.5 million for the new construction, of which $1.5 million will be covered by state funds.

“This is an exciting development,” said Chairman Woodard. “Dare County has stepped up to the plate, we are committed to investing in the education of our kids.”

The first technical meeting concerning the new construction of the campus was recently held between COA staff, Dare County and Boomerang Design, the architectural firm chosen for the project.  Boomerang Design, based in Raleigh, has experience in constructing governmental and educational facilities, and was the firm that designed and built the new professional arts building located at the Dare County COA site off U.S. Route 64.

“There are no exact dates on when construction will begin,” said Outten, adding that the latest start date would be August 2021. Drawings of the new campus have not yet been completed, but the building configuration will consist of flex space in order to adapt to curriculum needs.

“It is estimated, based on funds available, that the building be just under 27,000 square feet,” said Twiford.

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Right Hook

Great foresight and planning! Many CC programs offer greater salaries and employment options than many BA degrees. Hopefully the new Dare campus will increase offerings so local students don’t have to commute to the Elizabeth City campus. Offering the Early College program is HUGE! We are truly blessed to have such an awesome CC system in NC! Hats off to local leaders moving in this direction for our youth!