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Awake58 town hall: Crucial decisions on the CARES Act

Community colleges are wrestling with decisions on how to use CARES Act funding, both for student aid and institutional costs; face-to-face instruction; potential enrollment spikes; the safety and health of faculty, staff, and students; and the role they might play in North Carolina’s economic recovery in the years ahead.

Our first Awake58 virtual town hall focused on the decision points facing college leaders, as well as statewide decision makers, about community college funding, the institutional side of CARES Act funding for postsecondary institutions, and more. We were joined by our friends at the Belk Center.

You can watch the full video below:

Presidents Kandi Deitemeyer of Central Piedmont Community College, Garrett Hinshaw of Catawba Valley Community College, and Lawrence Rouse of Pitt Community College provided insights and stories from their institutions as they have navigated and deployed CARES Act funding.

David Baime, senior vice president for government relations and policy analysis for the American Association of Community Colleges, gave his perspective on the evolution of the CARES Act as well as what the future might hold for federal funding.

The conversation also covered the revenue shortfalls the state is facing and the funding formula for the community college system.

“We have received 7% to 9% of the total educational dollar allocation every single year since our birth,” Hinshaw said. “And when you look at the impact that we’re having on our local communities, and on our workforce, the return on the investment of that has been tremendous. Imagine if we only received 10 to 11%, instead of just the seven to nine, the difference that we can make in our communities.

“And we have this idea that we have to continue to accept status quo; we have all changed. We have changed in this moment, and I believe there is an appetite from the decision makers. I’ve spoken directly to the governor about this issue, and I’ve talked to the House and Senate leaders. It is now that these critical conversations must start about the investment that North Carolina makes in education.”

We concluded the town hall by asking what instruction might look like this fall. Deitemeyer led us through some of the questions that CPCC is wrestling with: “It may be a little early to tell, but we’re looking at, what are the metrics in our county? What are the metrics in the state? How do we implement safeguards and PPE? And how do we do social distancing?”

Nation Hahn

Nation Hahn is the director of growth for EducationNC.