The Vance-Granville Community College Board of Trustees has voiced its support of the Connect NC Bond on the ballot for voters in the primary on March 15.
In a unanimous vote on Monday night, Feb. 8, at the trustees’ regular bimonthly meeting, the board adopted a resolution of support for the $2 billion bond package.
“The Connect NC Bond … will enable North Carolina’s systems of higher education to educate and train a highly qualified workforce for the 21st century and will support our state’s parks, National Guard, community infrastructure, and agricultural resources,” the resolution states.
If approved by the state’s voters, $7.6 million of the bond package “will pay for ongoing, necessary improvements for VGCC and provide a substantial savings to the people of Vance, Granville, Franklin and Warren counties,” the resolution states.
“This is the first statewide bond we’ve had since the year 2000,” VGCC President Dr. Stelfanie Williams told the board. “The state of North Carolina has actually grown by 2 million people since then. We have a lot of new people in our state.
“This will very much benefit our region. Not only will the community college receive funding but also the state parks. Kerr Lake is set to receive $3,750,000. Municipalities can apply for water and sewer infrastructure,” Dr. Williams said.
The college can use its allocation for new construction, renovations and repairs across its four campuses, Dr. Williams added.
VGCC’s proposed allocation is the eighth largest among the state’s community colleges. “The nice thing about this bond for Vance-Granville is that the formula for determining allocations incorporated county wealth and the age of buildings, so we fared well with $7.6 million,” Dr. Williams said.
Steve Graham, VGCC’s vice president of finance and operations, said the college has many needs for retrofitting and enhancing instructional program spaces and addressing critical repair and renovation needs with the bond proceeds, if approved.
Graham noted as examples that partnerships with area industry are resulting in higher enrollments in programs such as the new Mechatronics Engineering Technology academic program. Additional space is needed for lecture areas and for housing new equipment.
Some buildings on VGCC’s main campus (pictured above) have air handling units that are over 30 years old, and there are older model fire alarm systems that need to be replaced, Graham added. In some curriculum areas, such as Cosmetology, electrical and ventilation upgrades are needed.
Dr. Williams added that the public school students will also benefit from the bonds in the four-county area, because there are approximately 800 enrolled in the early college high schools on VGCC’s four campuses.
On the ballot, the Connect NC Bond will be labeled the “Connect NC Public Improvement Bond.” Early voting is scheduled for March 3-12, Dr. Williams said.
The board voted to contribute $7,000 of non-state funds to support the Connect NC Bond Committee.
In other action:
• Mid-Year Amendments to the 2015-2016 Budget Resolution were approved. Trustee Danny Wright, chair of the board’s Budget Committee, said the adjustments were necessary to account for $2,074,022 in carryover funds from the previous year and grant funding.
• The board voted to close the Industrial Systems academic program, effective in the fall of 2016, upon recommendation of the Curriculum Committee, chaired by Trustee Barbara Cates Harris. More students are gravitating to the Mechatronics program, contributing to low enrollment in Industrial Systems.
• Under a new sales tax redistribution plan, the state and local sales tax base will be expanded to include repair, maintenance and installation services, Graham reported. A portion of local sales tax revenue will be placed in a statewide pool and allocated under a new statutory method with the proceeds used for expenditures related to economic development, public schools or community colleges. By county, the estimated annual distribution is: Vance, $241,000; Granville, $1,157,000; Franklin, $1,903,000; and Warren, $778,000.
• Following a report by Trustee Sara Wester, chair of the Personnel Committee, the trustees approved resolutions to adopt two additional Supplemental Retirement Plans established by the State for the benefit of VGCC employees with no cost to the college. All qualified employees are eligible immediately for the NC 403 (b) and NC 457 plans.
• The Investment Committee, co-chaired by Trustees Opie Frazier and Donald Seifert, reported on a joint meeting held with members of the VGCC Endowment Fund Board of Directors in January. Seifert said the two boards are currently updating the college’s investment policies.
• In an update for the Building Committee, Graham reported that work began on the Building 10 renovations in January with an expected completion date of June 23.
• The board approved a course offering at Polk Correctional Institution in Butner and Warren Correctional Institution in Manson. All courses offered at the state’s prisons must go before trustees for approval.
• Student Government Association President Aleria Perry, who serves as Student Trustee, announced upcoming events at the college, including Fun Friday for Valentine’s Day on Feb. 12, Spirit Week starting Feb. 29, and a Talent Show for students on March 4.
• In Dr. Williams’ report to the board, the trustees were updated on activities since the board last met in November, including the recent announcement of a former VGCC president, Dr. Ben Currin, winning the community college system’s top award, the I.E. Ready Award, and plans for VGCC’s new online learning initiative, VOLT (Vanguard Online Learning through Technology), to offer online College Transfer degrees starting in the fall. She also announced the dates of an Arts & Sciences Lecture Series that will feature Bill Barker of Colonial Williamsburg, Va., as Thomas Jefferson; lectures are set for Feb. 18, March 17, and April 21, at 11 a.m. each day in the Auditorium in Building 2. The college’s Fourth Annual Dinner Theater will be held April 28-30. The annual VGCC Endowment Fund Golf Tournament is set for Tuesday, May 3.
The Monday night meeting was moved to Feb. 8 because of inclement weather on the original meeting date of Jan. 25. The next meeting of the Board of Trustees is set for Monday, March 21, on the Main Campus.