Trustees Urge General Assembly to Support Community Colleges with Increased Funding

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Vance-Granville Community College’s Board of Trustees adopted a resolution urging the North Carolina General Assembly to support the state’s community colleges with increased funding at the board’s bi-monthly meeting on Monday, March 16. The meeting was held at the VGCC Warren County Campus in Warrenton (pictured above).

 

The resolution, approved unanimously, urges the Legislature to close the “Salary Gap” for community college instructors and staff by allowing colleges to retain $59 million now returned to the state as a part of management flexibility cuts.

 

“North Carolina community college instructors taught more than 800,000 students during the 2013-2014 academic year, accounting for one in nine North Carolina citizens who are 18 or older,” said Dr. Stelfanie Williams, VGCC’s president.

“Forty percent of all wage earners in the state were taught by a community college instructor in the past 10 years.”

The instructors and staff at Vance-Granville “help citizens obtain higher-paying jobs, help employers by providing a skilled workforce and help families by providing high-quality, cost-effective education,” Dr. Williams added.

 

North Carolina community college instructor and staff salaries rank among the lowest nationally and in the Southeast, the resolution noted.

 

In addition to boosting salaries, the VGCC resolution urges lawmakers to allocate the funding to provide local community college-employed career coaches in the high schools through a proposed new partnership. The resolution urges the legislators to close the “Interest Gap” by appropriating $7 million in recurring funds over two years to establish a fund to match local dollars with business and philanthropic funding.

 

With the resolution, the trustees also encourage the Legislature to close a “Technology Gap” by:

• appropriating $10 million in non-recurring funds for equipment to provide a significant infusion of funds to support programs leading to well-paying jobs; and

• appropriating $5 million in recurring funds to provide support to pilot up to nine colleges to move to a hosted “cloud” environment as required by the State Office of Information Technology Services, which is expected to be more technically efficient and allow colleges to begin to move to a new platform.

 

In order to prepare the North Carolina workforce, VGCC and other state community colleges must maintain up-to-date equipment and technology, Dr. Williams said. The state community college system is nearing the end of life of its current Information Technology platform.

 

The resolution also urges action to:

• authorize year-round funding for Universal General Education Transfer Component (UGETC) Courses, which transfer to all University of North Carolina constituent institutions; and

• support veterans and their dependents by funding in-state tuition for them, a requirement recently mandated by Congress.

“Local employers rely on Vance-Granville Community College to provide a trained workforce,” the resolution states.

 

To further bolster the argument for more funding for higher salaries, the resolution also notes:

• Through a Comprehensive Articulation Agreement, community college instructors teach university-equivalent courses that transfer to UNC schools.

• Community college instructors provide customized workforce training, and they teach more than 800 continuing education courses, 300 of which lead to state-regulated or industry-recognized credentials.

 

The resolution was brought to the full board by the Trustees’ Executive Committee, chaired by Deborah Brown, chair of the board.

 

Warren County Campus

 

The meeting was held in Building 4 on the Warren County Campus as a part of the trustees’ efforts to meet in each of the counties served by the college.  The trustees have now held meetings in each of the college’s four counties during the past two years. Warren County commissioners and officials were treated to dinner and presentations on activities at the campus.

 

Budget Requests

 

Trustees approved a proposed total budget request of $2,649,248 for 2015-2016 for Vance, Granville, Franklin and Warren counties.

 

The budget requests, which include $2,543,288 in current expenses and $105,960 in capital outlay, now go to the board of county commissioners in each of the four counties served by VGCC.

 

Of the $2.5 million current expense county budget, $1,194,283 is being proposed for Vance County for the Main Campus and the Maria Parham Medical Center location; $754,212 for Granville County for Main Campus, South Campus and the Oxford Culinary Arts location; $225,625 for Warren County’s campus; and $369,168 for Franklin County’s campus.

 

Of the $105,960 in capital outlay requests for facility improvement needs, funding by county is: Vance, $48,720; Granville, $31,240; Warren, $6,000; and Franklin, $20,000.

 

The proposed current expense county budget represents a $192,026 increase over the 2014-2015 current expense budget and a $40,000 increase over the current year’s capital outlay.

 

The increase in funding is being requested to maintain current operations, to relieve the supplemental appropriation of college and state funds for the operation and maintenance of each plant, to cover increased costs in the employer-provided retirement and health insurance contribution rates for county-funded employees, and to cover adjustments in inflationary factors, said Steven Graham, VGCC vice president of finance and operations.

 

The budgets are contingent upon approval by the respective board of county commissioners in the four-county area, said Abdul Sm Rasheed, chair of the trustees’ Budget Committee.

 

“With the blessings of the board of trustees, Dr. Williams and I will now meet with each of the county managers and finance directors and officially present them with our needs in greater detail,” said Graham.

 

County funding represents approximately 6 percent of the college’s overall budget.

 

Articulation Agreements for Nursing

 

In a report from the Curriculum Committee, chaired by Trustee Michele Burgess, the board received details on a uniform articulation agreement that will benefit VGCC’s Associate Degree Nursing (ADN) students.

 

The UNC Board of Governors and the State Board of Community Colleges have approved an agreement to promote a more seamless, concise pathway for ADN graduates pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, said Dr. Angela Ballentine, VGCC vice president of academic and student affairs.

 

The health care industry is facing increasing demand for nurses to pursue BSN degrees, Dr. Ballentine said. VGCC already had articulation agreements with NC A&T State University, East Carolina University and Chamberlain College.  This new agreement, which covers all 16 universities in the UNC system, allows students to begin their BSN studies at VGCC and be guaranteed of transferability of courses.

 

The two state boards had previously approved an agreement for students enrolled in College Transfer programs across the state. A third new agreement also allows for transferability for students moving from an Associate in Engineering to a Bachelor of Arts in Engineering in the UNC system.

 

Other Action

 

In other action:

• Warren County Commissioner Bertadean Baker replaced Ruby Downey on the VGCC Board of Trustees as the Warren County liaison.

• Final working drawings and construction documents for VGCC’s Building 10 have been reviewed by the State Construction Office, according to Graham. The architect will provide an updated project schedule after the final response to the review. The building, a former retail and service center located across Poplar Creek Road from the college’s main entrance, will house classrooms for Emergency Medical Services, Fire/Rescue Programs, Basic Law Enforcement Training, Law Enforcement In-Service training and other workforce programs.

• After taking a dip in January’s reports, the college’s investments were up $69,000 in February, according to a report from Trustee L. Opie Frazier, Jr. Investments now total $2,055,096. The funds are separate from other contributions presented to the college and to VGCC’s separate Endowment Fund.

• Trustees will be attending the North Carolina Association of Community College Trustees Law/Legislative Seminar in Raleigh on April 8-10, according to an announcement from Dr. Williams.

• Dr. Williams also announced the following upcoming events at the college: Vance-Granville Community Band Spring Concert, April 16; Earth Day, April 22; Dinner Theater, April 30 and May 1; Endowment Fund Golf Tournament, May 5; and Graduation, May 15.

 

The next meeting of the VGCC Board of Trustees will be held on Monday, May 18, at the Main Campus.