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Gov. Cooper's budget includes raises for community college personnel

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Welcome to the latest edition of Awake58! If you received this email without subscribing, please click here to subscribe to this newsletter.

Gov. Cooper released his budget proposal last week, and it includes funding for community college personnel salary increases… Gov. Cooper’s budget proposal also includes a bond proposal for education infrastructure needs… We take a look at Haywood Community College’s deployment of hot spots…

Thank you all for your reactions and input around our comprehensive look at enrollment declines across the community college system. Several Awake58 readers wrote in to share what their college is planning to do this spring and summer to promote enrollment — and we would love to hear more from all of you.

The enrollment figures matter deeply to the state appropriated budget for all 58 community colleges. We are also continuing to explore the ways that colleges intend to deploy federal funds both from the December COVID-relief bill and the American Rescue Plan Act. We’d also love to hear your ideas for how this surge of federal funding might be deployed.

Last week, Gov. Roy Cooper released his budget proposal. You can expect plenty of debate and discussion on the budget front in the weeks and months ahead — and it is worth remembering House Speaker Tim Moore, Senate Majority Leader Phil Berger, and their appropriations folks will have plenty of influence on the final budget given the Republican majorities in both houses of the legislature. The various statewide leaders have indicated they intend to find common ground, and at this point I don’t expect a repeat of the budget impasse from 2019.

EdNC’s Alex Granados has a comprehensive report out on the governor’s proposal. A few highlights:

  • “When it comes to community colleges, Cooper’s plan includes a one-time $2,000 bonus as well as a 7.5% raise over the biennium for community college employees. System office employees would also get a raise of more than 5% over two years.”
  • “Under Cooper’s plan, community colleges across the state would also get money to stabilize budgets due to enrollment declines brought on by COVID-19. There is also funding for IT systems and cybersecurity support among community colleges.”

For more on the budget proposal and other happenings at the legislature, read Alex’s legislative roundup.

myFutureNC and ncIMPACT have partnered together to launch an initiative to support 10 local community collaboratives focused on increasing attainment in their area. Anita Brown-Graham of ncIMPACT described the initiative as follows on the Awake58 podcast: “How are communities going to play their part in helping the state reach this goal? Well, one thing we know, it’s not going to be just up to our educational institutions. Everyone who understands anything about how people go into careers recognizes that getting those credentials and getting connected to work takes a village. And so these cooperatives are really just that.”

The application deadline was Monday. Stay tuned to see the communities that end up participating in the initiative. We’ll be covering their progress in the years ahead.

My colleague Molly Osborne is heading to Wilkes Community College on Wednesday. We also have additional trips planned throughout the spring. If you have story ideas, suggestions on programs to visit, or other thoughts please feel free to reach out. And, as always, we invite you to check each morning for the latest stories and education news. We encourage you to subscribe to our other newsletters to stay in the news — you can find the sign-up forms here.

See you out on the road,

Nation Hahn

Head of Growth —

EdNC reads

Here is what the governor wants for education over the next two years

Gov. Cooper’s budget proposal includes just over $16 billion for education in 2021-22 and almost $16.8 billion in 2022-23. I would caution readers to remember these types of budget proposals help frame the negotiations and debate at the General Assembly, but a lot of people will be weighing in and shaping the billions of dollars the General Assembly will be allocating.

As mentioned above, the governor’s proposal includes a $2,000 bonus for community college personnel, as well as a 7.5% raise over the course of the biennium (i.e. two years in plain English). In addition, system office employees would receive a raise of more than 5%. Cooper’s plan would also provide funding for budget stabilization against the backdrop of systemwide enrollment declines.

What else is included? Alex Granados reports:

Cooper’s proposal also includes $7.5 million for UNC System Historically Minority-Serving Institutions (HMSI) to help “improve graduation rates and student success.” Elizabeth City State University, Fayetteville State University, UNC-Pembroke, NC Central University, and Winston-Salem State University would each get $1.5 million. ….

Cooper is also proposing a $4.7 billion bond be put on the ballot in November 2021. That bond would be used to take on the state’s many infrastructure needs, including in the public school and community college systems. It would include $2.5 billion for public schools and $500 million for the community college system. The public school system had more than $8 billion in infrastructure needs as of a few years ago, though that number is likely higher now.

A variety of legislative leaders responded to the proposal. Alex shared House Speaker Tim Moore’s response in his piece:

“While there are a number of shared priorities funded in the Governor’s budget proposal, North Carolina lawmakers will remain vigilant in our responsible financial management of the state and avoid irresponsible decisions that have harmed taxpayers in the past.

“The General Assembly will maintain budget strategies that made our state attractive to so many newcomers with a powerful economy and state government that serves citizens effectively.

“I look forward to reaching consensus on a state budget that works for all North Carolinians to avoid further vetoes by the Governor of valuable funds that taxpayers earned and communities deserve.”

For the full details, including a PDF outlining the proposal, click below.

Click here for more

Watch | This community college is using hot spots to shrink the digital divide for their students

Broadband access has been one of the dominant storylines of the pandemic as colleges and K-12 districts have pivoted towards remote education. Broadband access and affordability have always been a challenge, but the pandemic accelerated their prominence. Policymakers have made it clear they intend to do something on the myriad issues around the digital divide. In the meantime, we are reporting on local action across the state.

My colleague Alli Lindenberg traveled to Haywood Community College to learn more about their work providing hot spots to students. Alli reports:

The hot spots are the newest addition to the library’s lending services. The college has a total of 30 hot spots, all of which were made possible by grant funding. Ten of the hot spots were purchased from a Building a New Digital Economy in NC (BAND-NC) grant from the Institute for Emerging Issues at NC State.

“In moving so many of our courses online through the pandemic, it certainly did highlight concerns and challenges for students being able to connect,” said Shelley White, President of Haywood Community College.

Click the button below to watch Alli’s video showing how Haywood CC made this happen!

Click here for more

Q&A with Sen. Michael Lee and Sen. Deanna Ballard

Sens. Michael Lee, R-New Hanover, and Deanna Ballard, R-Watauga, are co-chairs of both the Senate education and education appropriations committees. Alex Granados visited with the two senators recently to better understand their perspectives on the issues facing us this legislative session, where their own passion for education issues originated, and what they think the future might hold.

Click here to read Alex’s full piece.

One issue the senators raised was governance and structure:

Lee: I think there’s a perennial problem that we don’t talk about as much. I think we do a pretty good job because of our structure in the Senate, so when we’re thinking about pre-K, we’re thinking about an education system, so we’re seeing how pre-K or K-5 impacts higher ed and workforce. So when we get together, we’re talking about the education system. Certainly there are buckets within policy, but we’re not talking about pre-K, K-5, middle, high, community college. And so, the concept of the education system sometimes is not always articulated well.

When I first was elected — and none of these people are still there, so I can say this — the chancellor of UNC-W, the superintendent of our K-12, and the president of our community college had never gotten together. So I call and asked for a meeting just to get together and talk about the education system in New Hanover County. And so that’s what at first really dawned on me. How kind of bifurcated everything is. That to me is a perennial challenge, but it is not always articulated.

Ballard: Workforce development would be another perennial issue in North Carolina. Whether that’s community colleges or your UNC system, your CTE (Career Technical Education) and the vocational work that we’re trying to do through DPI. It’s just a continual issue. Senator Lee and I’ve talked about this a lot too, but it’s very piecemealed across different agencies as well. So if you want to talk about funding, the buckets are a piecemealed scenario too. I think anything that makes things harder to really streamline and clean up and create cohesion and alignment … it’s just challenging.

Give the full interview a read by clicking below and let us know what you think.

Click here for more

Around NC

A bill filed on March 16 would allocate over $3.8 million for the purchase of lab equipment for the Biotechnology Center of Excellence Building at Alamance Community College during the 2021-22 academic year. The bill, sponsored by Sen. Amy Galey, R-Alamance, Guilford, now faces the Senate Appropriations/Base Budget Committee for approval.

The system office passed along the following invitation: “Join us September 23rd and 24th for a FREE virtual conference bringing together dual enrollment practitioners, policymakers, and researchers. The North Carolina Community College System, in partnership with the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, the SERVE Center at UNC-Greensboro, and the RAND Corporation, is hosting the Dual Enrollment: Accelerating Educational Attainment conference.”

“Dual Enrollment: Accelerating Educational Attainment is a conference linking policymakers, practitioners and researchers around their shared interest in dual enrollment. The conference has a strong focus on equity and excellence, with the goal of ensuring access and supporting success for all students.”

You may RSVP for the conference by clicking here.

As a reminder, each week we publish a legislative roundup looking at the latest happenings at the legislature. Give the latest edition a read by clicking here.

Central Carolina Community College’s short-term workforce development programs are in the spotlight with the local press. Felicia Crittenden, director of continuing education for CCCC, told the Sanford Herald, “We have seen a huge increase, particularly in Lee and Chatham counties, with interest in construction (continuing education)… Some of the other things we’re seeing is (interest in) vehicle escort training. Anytime a heavy vehicle is moving, it has to have an escort. Outside of that, just general building and construction.”

Forsyth Tech announced a new apprenticeship program last week in partnership with Toyota. The program is called T-TEN and it will pair students with dealerships. According to the release from the college: “Apprentices will earn wage increases as they progress through the on-the-job training and earn an associate in applied science in Automotive Systems Technology from Forsyth Tech. Also, they will earn national and state Journeyworker credentials and industry certifications.”

Tri-County Community College has pushed for in-state tuition for residents of several Georgia counties adjacent to their service area. The Carolina Journal has a feature out looking at Rep. Karl Gillespie’s legislation to provide Tri-County CC with a pilot for in-state tuition for residents of those counties through 2025.

Wake Tech announced their participation in a national initiative called the Taskforce on Higher Education and Opportunity. According to the college’s release, members of the taskforce “are driven to act by the challenges caused by the pandemic, income inequality, the changing nature of work, and levels of unemployment among recent college graduates nearly double those seen in the 2008 recession. The impact of this crisis is falling unevenly across groups and disproportionately impacting students from disadvantaged communities, despite their educational background.”

Other higher education reads

More Employers Are Awarding Credentials. Is A Parallel Higher Education System Emerging?

We recently spotlighted Google’s announcement of a major expansion of their Google Career Certificates program. EdSurge takes a look at other moves by major companies ranging from digital badging from IBM to Hubspot’s certifications and college partnerships — and they ask a provocative question: Is a parallel higher education system driven by industry emerging?

The Pressure to Retrain Workers Could Be Intense for Colleges. Here’s What They Can Start Doing Now.

The Chronicle takes a look at the potential for colleges to feel “pressure” around retraining workers as the rise in COVID-19 vaccinations drives a return to work for more and more people. The piece gives recommendations for what colleges could begin to tackle ahead of potential increases in the demand for short-term workforce programs.

Bridging the broadband divide published a look at attempts to expand broadband and device access that spotlights Edgecombe and Lenoir Community Colleges. Edgecombe Community College president Gregory McLeod lays out the equity case in the piece:

In Edgecombe County and its main city, Tarboro, McLeod’s students count themselves fortunate to find an outdoor electrical outlet with wifi or a campus parking lot with a strong internet signal.

“I feel for our students here,” McLeod said. “They have the exact same potential as any young person in Raleigh or Charlotte or New York or wherever. But if they don’t have access to these resources and this great information that you can find out there, their potential is going to be impacted. We need to address that because these young people are our future.”

Nation Hahn

Nation Hahn is the chief of growth for EducationNC.