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We have a budget. What is in it for community colleges?

A note from us

Hi, Hannah and Nation here with this week’s edition of Awake58. If you missed our last newsletter featuring news from the State Board retreat, you can find it on our website.

The state finally has a budget. The governor will let it become law without his signature… Our reporters outline the budget’s impact on other education sectors… A recent panel discussion explored what resources are needed for rural colleges… An AdvanceNC regional effort was recently unveiled…

The Republican-led General Assembly passed North Carolina’s new $30 billion budget on Sept. 22, and the net appropriation for the North Carolina Community College System (NCCCS) is about $1.5 billion in both years of the spending plan.

The budget includes a 7% raise over two years for most state employees and community college personnel. Including these raises and other investments, the net appropriation adds a little more than $300 million in non-capital funding to the system over the biennium.

This is more than the system’s legislative ask for $232 million, which included a 7% raise for faculty and staff over the biennium. While the budget does not include the flexible student investment fund of $145.88 million the system requested, it does include an unprecedented amount of allocations to individual colleges for workforce and health care programs.

“We appreciate the significant investments made in this year’s budget, which will undoubtedly enhance our ability to empower students and bolster workforce development across North Carolina,” NCCCS President Dr. Jeff Cox said in a statement last week. “We are committed to building upon this investment by ensuring  strategic and effective leadership for our 58-college system.”

We have more details on the budget on our website, including information on pay raises, workforce and health care funds, and governance changes.

Hannah also covered the budget through the prism of K-12 education last week. Our colleague Liz documented the impact of the state budget on the early child care funding cliff.

Last week, Hannah also documented a recent conversation on rural community colleges and resources, which connects back to all of the dialogue around budgets. This quote stuck with us: “As a rural college, I will tell you that there are some significant benefits to being in a rural community,” said Dr. Margaret Annunziata, president of Isothermal Community College. “But the challenges are very real and they do look different.”

We will continue to report on the budget outcomes in the weeks ahead. This week, Nation will be touring several counties in eastern North Carolina alongside our colleague Alli. Stay tuned for more details from those visits!

We’ll see you out on the road,

Nation & Hannah

EdNC reads

How did community colleges fare in North Carolina’s new budget?

As mentioned above, the new budget’s net appropriation for the North Carolina Community College System (NCCCS) is about $1.5 billion in both years of the spending plan.

The budget includes a 7% raise over two years for most community college personnel. Nursing faculty will receive extra raises on top of those across-the-board increases. The budget also includes an unprecedented amount of allocations to individual colleges for workforce and health care programs.

For students, the budget bill text creates a short-term workforce development grant program. Under that program, and “to the extent funds are made available for the Program, the State Board of Community Colleges shall award grants in an amount of up to seven hundred fifty dollars ($750.00) to students pursuing short-term, noncredit State and industry workforce credentials.”

“The eligible programs of study shall include programs such as architecture and construction, health sciences, information technology, electrical line worker, and manufacturing programs and may include other programs to meet local workforce needs,” the budget says.

The budget also allocates $12.5 million in recurring funds each year of the biennium for the Longleaf Commitment Community College Grant Program, which provides need-based financial aid to high school graduates who attend a North Carolina community college. The funds will support the high school class of 2023.

The budget also includes several governance and authority changes for both the State Board of Community Colleges and local boards of trustees.

  • The State Board’s election of a system president is now subject to confirmation by the General Assembly. At least three final candidates should be submitted to the full Board, and the candidate who receives a majority of votes of the entire Board should be elected. The person elected by the Board will serve as interim-President until the General Assembly adopts a joint resolution.
  • “If the General Assembly fails to adopt a joint resolution confirming the person by the date that either chamber reaches the thirtieth legislative day following the receipt of the name by the presiding officers, it shall be deemed that the General Assembly has denied confirmation. A person denied confirmation shall not serve as President or interim-President.”
  • The State Board will consist of 19 members, including the president of the North Carolina Comprehensive College Student Government Association (N4CSGA) as an ex officio member. The General Assembly will elect the other 18 members of the Board “at large to a term of four years beginning July 1 of an odd-numbered year and until a successor is elected and qualified.” Under the budget, the Governor no longer has any appointments to the Board. Read more about the election process for Board members on page 74 and 75 of the bill text.

Each community college has a local board of trustees. The budget changed the selection process for these local boards. Eight trustees will be appointed by the General Assembly — two members annually. Four trustees will be elected by the board of commissioners of the county in which the main campus of the college is located. One of those four trustees can be a county commissioner.

In addition, each board of commissioners of any other county “in the administrative area that provides plant funds to the institution shall elect two additional trustees to the board,” the budget says, one of whom may also be a county commissioner. A board of commissioners can delegate the election of one or more of its trustees to a local school board of education if it so chooses.

The president of the college’s student government may also serve as an ex-officio nonvoting member, “if the board of trustees of the community college agrees.”

Read more about individual allocations for colleges, health care and workforce funds, and allocations for HBCUs on our website.

Also check out EdNC’s budget coverage on K-12 and on early childhood.

What other questions do you have about the budget? Email Hannah at [email protected] or reply directly to this email.

Rural community colleges ‘change generations,’ but need resources

The State Board of Community Colleges’ September retreat included a panel conversation regarding the particular challenges and opportunities for rural community colleges. Wayne Community College President Dr. Patricia “Patty” Pfeiffer shared her personal story — and Hannah captured it well.

I was struck by this section from her article:

Approximately 78% of college operating funding came from the state last year, according to NCCCS data, followed by 15% from county funds and 7% from institutional funds.

Generally, state funding goes toward operating costs for instruction, administration, and support services. Local funds largely go toward the operation and maintenance of the campus and construction — and can vary significantly from college to college.

“In the next 5, 10, 20 years, a number of rural counties are going to suffer population decline,” said Dr. John Enamait, president of Stanly Community College. “So what that means is a strained county budget, which affects fiscal planning, which affects the ability to maintain facilities and build new facilities to train the citizens who are left. It comes down to resources.”

The majority of state funding for colleges falls into the instructional category and is distributed using a formula based on full-time equivalent (FTE) student enrollment. One FTE is equivalent to 512 hours of instruction.

For rural colleges, often with smaller student populations, smaller state budgets make it difficult to implement innovative strategies “without a tremendous growth of FTE,” Enamait said.

Stanly Community College, for example, launched a new success coach program a few years ago with the goal of increasing student persistence rates.

“I ended up eliminating another department, having to restructure and free up some financial resources in order to make this happen,” Enamait said.

Such programs are critical for students in rural areas, Pfeiffer said. Approximately 50% of students at Wayne Community College are first-generation students, she said.

The college used a Title III grant to implement an achievement coaching program. As of September, that funding ended. The college was only able to keep three of those achievement coaches.

“I was a first-generation student,” she said. “It takes support to help the students be successful.”

Give her article a read. We’re working on a longer analysis of the overall funding picture for our colleges. Stay tuned. In the meantime, we would love to know your thoughts on the future of our rural community colleges.

Around NC

In significant news on the regional collaboration front, AdvanceNC was introduced last week by its partners. A release from Central Carolina Community College laid out the news:

AdvanceNC is formally described as “an innovative workforce development ecosystem developing a robust talent pipeline to support unprecedented economic growth in central North Carolina.”

What it boils down to is 10 community colleges, two state universities and six regional workforce development boards combining what they do best to provide opportunity for local families and develop expert workers for the exploding number of advanced manufacturing companies in the region. Though AdvanceNC focuses on 18 counties, it also is being promoted as a model that can be replicated all across the state.

We’ll have more on AdvanceNC soon.

The latest version of The Belk Center’s Adult Learner Guidebook is out now. According to The Belk Center, the guidebook, “dives into the current landscape of adult education and showcases initiatives taken by community colleges in North Carolina. With insights from various campuses, this guidebook is a valuable tool for educators, policymakers, and anyone passionate about lifelong learning.”

The Camber Foundation announced their first round of grant recipients this week. I’d recommend community colleges in eastern N.C. follow their work and grant cycles.

There was significant news from the UNC system and NC10 as Chancellor Harold Martin Sr. announced his retirement from North Carolina A&T University at the conclusion of the 2023-2024 academic year.

Cape Fear Community College announced a new transfer pathway with NC State University this week. From CFCC: “Our two institutions have put in place a transfer agreement to give CFCC students who have completed at least 45 credit hours in Criminal Justice Technology or Public Safety Administration programs the ability to seamlessly transfer into NCSU’s Leadership in the Public Sector bachelor degree program.”

Richmond Community College will extend their truck driving training program into Montgomery County, in partnership with Montgomery Community College.

Dr. Dale McInnis, president of Richmond CC, explained how the program will work using resources, including 18-wheelers and instructors from RichmondCC, for the class in Montgomery County.

“We saw an opportunity to support our friends here in Montgomery County. It makes no sense to replicate high-cost programs when we have existing equipment that will satisfy the demand,” McInnis said.

Wayne Community College announced Emily Byrd as the new director of their foundation last week.

Students from Pitt Community College are auctioning six projects they constructed to raise money for future trainings, per a WITN report. The college will host a public auction on Nov. 4, auctioning off three homes and three storage buildings built by students in the college’s construction and industrial technology division.

The NCCCS recently announced Betty Silver as Associate Vice President of NCEdge Customized Training. In the new role, Silver is responsible for the System’s customized training program known as NCEdge.

Earlier this month, five community college students were awarded the prestigious Samuel M. Taylor Memorial Life Sciences Scholarship, providing up to $3,000 per student to offset the cost of tuition, fees, and books as they pursue careers in the life sciences field.

The 2023-2024 scholarship recipients are:

  • Stephanie Alston; studying clinical trials research at Durham Technical Community College. This is her third year as a Taylor scholarship recipient.
  • Lila Bradshaw; studying bioprocess technology at Johnston Community College.
  • Christopher Lee; studying medical laboratory technology at Southeastern Community College.
  • Catherine Marsenic; studying medical laboratory technology at Coastal Carolina Community College.
  • Keshia Sauls; studying bioprocess technology at Johnston Community College. This is her second year as a Taylor scholarship recipient.

The NCCCS was also recently selected as a finalist for the N.C. TECH Awards Government Project of the Year Award, in recognition of its Rural College Broadband Project, which bolstered broadband access on 45 rural college campuses throughout the state over the last two years. The NC TECH Awards is North Carolina’s only statewide technology awards program that recognizes innovation, growth, and leadership in the tech sector and is presented by the North Carolina Technology Association.

Other higher education reads

Meet the 2023-24 Presidents Fellows

From the Aspen Institute: “The College Excellence Program is proud to introduce the inaugural cohort of presidents selected for the 2023-24 Aspen Presidents Fellowship. They are among the nation’s most promising community college leaders—committed to taking risks, building partnerships, and setting a bold vision to advance equitable student outcomes.”

Our congratulations go out to Stanly Community College President Dr. John Enamait for being named part of this prestigious cohort.

Nation Hahn

Nation Hahn is the chief of growth for EducationNC.

Hannah Vinueza McClellan

Hannah McClellan is EducationNC’s senior reporter and covers education news and policy, and faith.