NC Voters Approve $350 Million for NC Community Colleges
North Carolina voters approved Tuesday’s $2 billion bond referendum with nearly two-thirds supporting the infrastructure projects, including $350 million designated for North Carolina’s 58 community colleges.
The vote marks the initial step in the first major infusion of capital funds for the community colleges since 2000.
“Our voters understood the need to train our state’s citizens in the same high-tech, high-quality facilities that they will encounter in the workplace,” said Jim Rose, a member of the State Board of Community Colleges and co-chair of the Connect NC Committee. “They demonstrated statewide support for the work of our colleges, and for that, we are grateful.”
The amount of funding designated for each college was established by the General Assembly using a formula that looked at the age of the college’s facilities as well as the economic distress of each college’s service area. New construction projects will require a local match, based on a sliding scale linked to a county’s economic distress, while repair or renovation projects will not require a local funding match.
“We are very encouraged by the voters and their confidence in our community college system,” said Dr. Deborah Lamm, president of Edgecombe Community College. “They understand our need to provide modern facilities to train skilled workers. Education and training for the workforce have always been the guiding mission of our colleges.”
Edgecombe Community College will receive $7.3 million for new construction and much-needed renovations. The college’s top construction priority is a Center for Innovation in Workforce and Public Safety. The proposed 24,000-square-foot facility would be constructed in Tarboro and would serve as the hub for workforce and public safety training.
Community colleges will now begin the process of turning the bond possibilities into realities. Every college has a set of identified capital needs. Now, they will move forward with the approval process, which includes, at a minimum, votes by both their local boards of trustees and the State Board of Community Colleges.
Community college students, faculty, and staff across the state mounted strong efforts locally to educate voters about the impact the bonds would have on higher education, state parks, the National Guard, water and sewer projects, and agricultural initiatives. Additionally, many colleges supported the Connect NC Committee through contributions from non-taxpayer resources, including a $40,000 contribution from the state-level NC Community Colleges Foundation.
“March 15 proved to be an incredibly great day for our colleges and for North Carolina,” said Scott Shook, chair of the State Board of Community Colleges. “I appreciate all of our folks who worked to help get the vote out and to make sure those voters were informed. We will be benefitting from the impact of this vote for years to come.”