Alcorn reflects after nearly a year as state Board of Education member

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 24, 2013

After nearly a year of serving on the N.C. State Board of Education, Rowan County native Greg Alcorn says he is struck with the “incredible number of stakeholders in the education system.”
Alcorn represents the seventh education district, which covers 14 counties from Rowan County northwest to Avery County, and is the chairman for the Business, Finance and Advocacy committee, also known as the 21st Century Systems committee.
“Through the strategic planning process, I think we’re going to be able to do a great job to become not just a regionally competitive school system, but to be globally competitive,” Alcorn said.
Gov. Pat McCrory appointed Alcorn to the board at the beginning of 2013, and he attended his first meeting in April. Alcorn will serve a six-year term through March 2019.
The State Board of Education is comprised of the lieutenant governor, state treasurer and 11 members appointed by the governor and confirmed by the state legislature. According to its website, the board is responsible for “supervising and administering the free public school system and the educational funds provided for its support.”
“The General Assembly makes the laws as to what direction they want our public education to go,” Alcorn explained. “It’s our responsibility to manage the money that the legislature designates.”
The board meets the first Wednesday and Thursday of each month in Raleigh. Alcorn also meets monthly with members of the seventh district.
The talents of the board members are varied, Alcorn said. “There are educators, attorneys. I’m the business person on the board.”
“Gov. McCrory asked me to serve because of my background in business and technology,” he said.
Alcorn explained the Business, Finance and Advocacy committee is essentially an operations committee. Alcorn spends much of his time looking at decisions based on value. They deal with the “technology and operations process of the school board.”
The committee’s goal is to have “every school and every classroom outfitted with digital tools,” for each student to have a digital device and to have Internet connectivity in every school in North Carolina by 2017, he said.
Since April, the board also approved a grant that will place school resource officers in middle schools across the state, allocations for summer reading and the 21st Century Community Learning grant, which funds before- and after-school tutoring programs.
Alcorn is impressed with the decision-making process of the board.
“It’s very non-political,” he said. Discussions are always civil and decisions are based on fairness.
Alcorn said he faced a learning curve because of the complexity of educational decisions.
Alcorn went onto the State Board of Education ready to learn. He has a philosophy of taking your time to learn, then serve and eventually lead. However, Chairman William Cobey told Alcorn that he needed him to do all three at the same time.
The position involves a fair amount of travel, Alcorn said. “I just didn’t realize how much time it would take to do it right.”
This isn’t the first time Alcorn’s been involved in education in North Carolina.
Alcorn is on the board of trustees at Catawba College, where he served with McCrory until McCrory resigned. The pair’s time as students at Catawba overlapped a little, but they became business and community associates later through business meetings and by serving on the board of trustees.
Alcorn also served on Salisbury Academy’s board of trustees for 10 years. Three of those years, he was the board chairman.
He said serving on Catawba’s board of trustees helps him “see the ripple effects of what we’re doing” on the N.C. Board of Education and his involvement at Salisbury Academy helped him understand how curriculums are picked and parents, teachers and students interact. “It’s been helpful.”
Alcorn is a Salisbury native and attended Overton Elementary, Knox Middle School and Salisbury High School as a child. He attended Catawba College and received his master’s in business administration from University of North Carolina at Charlotte.
In 2001, Alcorn founded Global Contact Services, a business that manages and outsources contact centers, and he still serves as its CEO. He was previously the president of SOMAR Inc. in Salisbury.
He is married to Missie Alcorn, and they have two children, Clark and Eleanor.

Contact reporter Jeanie Groh at 704-797-4222.