Housing Deficit Project



Ocracoke, NC – Oct. 17, 2023 – In response to a lack of housing for Hyde County Schools staff members, Hyde County Schools, and the Hyde County Education Foundation announce a groundbreaking initiative to address the challenge of affordable housing and expand early childhood education.

Housing options on Ocracoke have always been challenging, and this problem has been exacerbated by rising home prices and the loss of housing stock during Hurricane Dorian. The median home price on Ocracoke has reached record levels, and is unaffordable on the current school salary scale. Year-round rental units are extremely limited, and in many school years, we have had to turn away quality teachers because they could not find a place to live.

Mainland Hyde County faces similar problems of a housing shortage, with an aging housing stock and limited options for rentals. A significant portion of recruited staff comes from outside of the area, creating issues when accepting roles with the School System due to a lack of housing. Many mainland staff members are forced to reside in neighboring counties, leading to lengthy daily commutes to and from work.

Recognizing the importance of having school employees living near their workplace, and being able to be a part of the community they serve, Hyde County Schools aims to encourage longer-term commitments from staff by addressing the housing deficit.

Dr. Melanie Shaver, Superintendent of Schools, has been instrumental in driving this initiative since joining the school system. The formation of The Hyde County Education Foundation, a non-profit focused on addressing issues that inhibit the education of students in Hyde County (which includes staff housing and early childhood education), will begin work to address these issues. The Hyde County Education Foundation, or HCEF, Ocracoke members include; Tommy Burruss, Sara Teaster, Raul Ibarra, Alice Burruss, and Angie Todd, will be focused on this mission. Through community engagement, partnerships, and discussions with the Board of Education and community stakeholders, solutions have been identified to mitigate the turnover rate and housing challenges on Ocracoke.

In collaboration with the Ocracoke Child Care, Inc. the Hyde County Education Foundation has assumed control of the Ocracoke Child Care Center. This transition paves the way for creating housing options, increasing staff retention, and expanding early childhood education. High-quality teachers and options for our youngest learners are part of a holistic approach to improving public education in Hyde County. Leslie Cole, principal of Ocracoke School, states, “Having an affordable housing option that we can offer our potential teachers and staff is exciting.”

The Foundation envisions converting the former Child Care Center into six separate apartment units, each accommodating one to two occupants. These apartments will be offered at an affordable monthly rate to new school staff on the island for up to three school years as they seek permanent housing in Hyde County. In the event of unoccupied units, the project will extend temporary housing offers to other county and state employees, including law enforcement and EMS personnel. The revenue from the rental units will be reinvested in property maintenance and to support expanding early childhood education programs within Hyde County Schools.

The Hyde County Education Foundation acknowledges and appreciates the support provided by the Ocracoke Child Care, Inc. for Hyde County Schools students over the past four years and their historic commitment to the education and care of Ocracoke’s youngest residents. As a result of this partnership, Hyde County Schools will be expanding the Pre-K program in Ocracoke to include 3-year-olds beginning in the 2024-2025 school year. Expanding the universal access to 3-year-olds in the pre-K program meets the Hyde County Schools strategic goals of supporting student success by ensuring school readiness. Early access to school readiness supports the long-term achievement of students. The Hyde County Education Foundation expresses gratitude for the unwavering commitment and advocacy demonstrated by Ocracoke Child Care, Inc. Board in prioritizing and advocating for early childhood education within the community.

Renovation efforts for this project are anticipated to commence in the Spring, 2024. Moving forward, the Hyde County Educational Foundation will expand its board to work to identify and create solutions for housing options on the mainland as well.

Hyde County Schools and the Hyde County Education Foundation, in collaboration with community stakeholders, remain committed to addressing housing challenges for staff and supporting early childhood education, ultimately working towards improving public education within Hyde County. This initiative marks a significant step towards a more sustainable and thriving school system.

For further information and media inquiries, please contact:
Julio Morales - Assistant to the Superintendent & Board of Education, Public Information Officer
Hyde County Schools