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Our thoughts are with Forsyth Tech.

A note from us

Hi, Nation here with this week’s edition of Awake58. If you missed last week’s edition focused on adult learners and the search process for the next system president, you can read it by clicking here.

A shooting at Forsyth Tech… Community college legislative day took place last week… The house budget proposal was released… The N.C. Community Colleges Foundation has a new executive director…

Last week was a busy one. My colleague Hannah joined college presidents, State Board of Community College members, and key stakeholders for N.C. community college legislative day. The House budget proposal came out — including their proposal for a 7.5% pay raise over the next two years. And on an otherwise normal Thursday, we heard reports of an active shooter on the campus of Forsyth Technical Community College on Twitter. Mebane, Emily, and I immediately hopped in our respective cars and headed to Winston-Salem.

Here is the update we wrote for Friday’s EdDaily:

Yesterday (Thursday) morning, there was a shooting at Forsyth Technical Community College. At the time, there were about 600 high school seniors from the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools and Stokes County Schools also on campus. One of those students —  an 18-year-old who attends Winston-Salem Preparatory Academy who has been charged — brought a gun to the community college campus. One shot was fired: the shooter shot himself in the hand. He was transported to a local hospital for treatment of the non-life threatening injury.

The timing of the shooting heightened concern about school and college safety. The day before, legislators successfully overrode Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto of a bill that would allow some individuals to purchase a gun without a background check. Among other things, Senate Bill 41 gets rid of the requirement to obtain a pistol purchase permit from a sheriff prior to purchasing the firearm.

Carolyn McMackin, the chief of police at Forsyth Tech, said, “This was a scary situation for all of us. As the chief of police this is the call that we never want to receive.”

Resources – including access to counselors and social workers — are being made available to support students and others on campus who have anxiety and trauma.

To everyone involved in ensuring the safety of the students and faculty, thank you.

To President Spriggs and the Trailblazers of Forsyth Tech, to Superintendent McManus and Superintendent Rice and the students and parents in those districts, we are with you.

While initial responses for many may be gratitude that it “wasn’t worse” — it is worth remembering that in this era of school violence, last Thursday was a terrifying one for hundreds of students, faculty, and their families. A day they will carry with them moving forward. We’ll be thinking of everyone in the days ahead.

I also want to take a moment to bid farewell to my colleague and friend Alex Granados, whose last day at EdNC was on Friday. Alex was one of the first members of the EdNC team. I had served as a consultant ahead of the launch of and I still recall when Mebane called to let me know she had finally found our reporter for launching the organization. It turns out that she had found not just a reporter, but someone we would all be fortunate to call friend. Alex wrote a letter to all of you that you can find here. Hannah McClellan will be driving much of our coverage at the legislature moving forward.

I’ll see you out on the road,

Nation Hahn

Head of Growth —

EdNC reads

House budget proposal: 7.5% salary increase

The North Carolina House released their spending proposal last Wednesday — and we have all of the details on their spending plans across the entire educational continuum in this article from Alex, Liz, and Hannah.

Here are some of the key items in the House budget for the community college system:

The proposed budget includes $1.5 billion for the N.C. Community College System (NCCCS) in both years of the biennium — including those same 4.25% across-the-board salary increases in 2023-24 and 3.25% increases in 2024-25. The budget would also provide $25.9 million in recurring funds toward faculty recruitment and retention for faculty in certain courses both years.

The proposed 7.5% salary increase over the next two years is higher than the system’s request for 7%.

NCCCS also requested a $232 million increase in state funding over two years, $145.88 million of which would be for student investment. That funding would provide flexible funding to each college to expand program capacity, system leaders have said.

The proposed budget does not directly include that $145.88 million line item. It does have almost $16 million recurring in both years for enrollment growth adjustments, and $1 million in recurring funds to increase the formula budget allocated for each Basic Skills full-time equivalent student.

The proposed budget also includes several workforce-focused items. There is $15 million in nonrecurring funds the first year of the budget to waive state registration fees for continuing education and workforce development courses.

“In subsequent fiscal years,” the proposed budget reads, “the Community College System enrollment funding formula shall adjust for the receipt loss caused by waivers without reducing formula budget requirements.”

The budget also includes $20 million in nonrecurring funds both years of the budget to expand health care programs, and $15 million in nonrecurring funds both years to support high-cost workforce programs — with $10 million each year required to support nursing programs.

Other line items include funding for apprenticeships, the Longleaf Commitment, and the Child Care Grant program. For those details, click here.

The budget process continued on Thursday with several amendments being proposed — and now the budget will go before the full House. You can expect the Senate budget to be released soon.

Remember that you can find our tracker of education-related bills here.

N.C. Community College legislative day focuses on building workforce, relationships

Hundreds of college presidents, State Board of Community College members, trustees from local colleges, and other key stakeholders gathered in Raleigh last Wednesday for community college legislative day.

The assembled stakeholders heard from key legislative leaders including Senate Majority Leader Phil Berger:

“I think we all understand and appreciate how community colleges play such a critical role in the betterment of North Carolina,” said Sen. Phil Berger, R-Guilford. “As the top state in the country for business, we need a strong community college system.”

Berger praised a new partnership between Richmond Community College and Fayetteville Technical Community College to offer several specialized, high-demand training programs. The N.C. Community College System (NCCCS) needs more of those partnerships to better serve students and meet industry demand, he said.

“Do we today have a community college system that is prepared to function as a system to optimize for the people in North Carolina, the opportunities for growth and employment that are present in today’s economy?” Berger asked. “How we respond to that question will have a profound impact on what our state looks like in the future.”

House Speaker Tim Moore, R-Cleveland, also shared his perspective:

“We recognize the fact that the community colleges have risen and are rising to the challenge to do great work all around the state,” said House Speaker Tim Moore. “(We are) so very proud of your service, very proud of your colleges, and very proud of the students who locate there, who get an education, and who leave and get a career.”

In addition to hearing from legislators, various stakeholders across the community college system made their case for significant investments from the state, including increased funding in workforce development and pay increases for faculty and staff.

Click here for more

Around NC

Katie Loovis has been named as the North Carolina Community Colleges Foundation’s first full-time executive director, according to a press release from the foundation.

The N.C. State Board of Community Colleges’ new Workforce Development Committee will hold a virtual planning meeting Wednesday, April 5 at 4:30 p.m. The meeting will be livestreamed on the N.C. Community College System Office YouTube channel.

Check out this three-part podcast series on early colleges, from the SERVE Center at UNC-Greensboro.

And check out this research on the success of early college students, from Public Radio for Eastern North Carolina: “…The benefits of participation in early college programs include fewer suspensions, better attendance, better high school graduation rates, higher credential attainment after high school, shorter times to degree attainment, and increased financial savings.”

Robeson Community College hosted local high school students for a campus tour recently — including a special pizza making experience with their culinary department. I can confirm the Robeson culinary department makes exceptionally good food, so I am sure those students were thrilled.

Robeson Community College also hosted myFutureNC’s CEO Cecilia Holden to discuss the state’s attainment goal.

Catawba Valley Community College’s furniture academy was profiled by The Assembly.

Central Piedmont Community College’s CDL-A/Truck Driving program has received a grant of $247,200 from the North Carolina Trucking Association Foundation and the N.C. Community College System, according to a release from the college.

McDowell Technical Community College student Marlee Merritt will earn his Associate Degree at “the ripe old age of” 16. We loved this profile on Marlee from McDowell Tech.

Wake Technical Community College will offer free books this fall. Check out their announcement here.

Surry Community College’s Surry-Yadkin Works program continues to grow, according to a release from the college: “Forty local students are now working as Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) pre-apprentices and apprentices after signing commitments with regional healthcare providers, through Surry-Yadkin Works.”

Related to the above announcement, I am interested in hearing more about “learn as you earn” opportunities in healthcare. Feel free to reply directly to this email if you know of any bright spots we should check out.

Other higher education reads

Stop requiring college degrees for jobs that don’t need them.

Momentum continues to grow across the country for employers to drop degree requirements for more jobs. This Vox opinion piece raises some compelling data:

These trends accelerated during the Great Recession, when employers had a labor surplus to choose from. Of the 11.6 million jobs created between 2010 and 2016, three out of four required at least a bachelor’s degree, and just one out of every 100 required a high school diploma or less.

These changes were documented in a 2017 study led by researchers at Harvard Business School. Their report, “Dismissed by Degrees,” found more than 60 percent of employers rejected otherwise qualified candidates in terms of skills or experience simply because they did not have a college diploma, and that the imperfect BA proxy had many negative consequences for workers and companies alike.

One of the researchers’ most revealing findings was that millions of job postings listed college degree requirements for positions that were currently held by workers without them. For example, in 2015, 67 percent of production supervisor job postings asked for a four-year college degree, even though just 16 percent of employed production supervisors had graduated from college. Many of these so-called “middle-skill” jobs, like sales representatives, inspectors, truckers, administrative assistants, and plumbers, were facing unprecedented “degree inflation.”

Nation Hahn

Nation Hahn is the chief of growth for EducationNC.