Rowan-Cabarrus Community College Board Calls on North Carolina General Assembly to Reinvest Funds Generated from Efficiencies


SALISBURY, N.C. — The Rowan-Cabarrus Community College Board of Trustees recently passed a resolution of support for a statewide campaign for community colleges.

The resolution calls on the North Carolina General Assembly to reinvest the developmental dividend efficiencies, as well as non-recurring funds in the current budget, and enable support for the strategic priorities which are critical for North Carolina’s economic success: close the skills gap and increase the quality of educational and training programs.

“We are putting taxpayers back to work in better careers. We are closing the skills gap for employers, creating opportunities for job creation and retention. We are a great value, saving money for North Carolina families,” said Dr. Carol S. Spalding, president of Rowan-Cabarrus.

Community colleges have worked hard to improve efficiencies over the last few years. One area of substantial improvement is the developmental math program. When students who are not ready for college-level math arrive at a community college, they need to take developmental, non-credit classes to prepare for college math. Sometimes the areas in which students need improvement are targeted and simply brushing up on fractions or algebra would solve the student’s problems. Instead of taking semesters of courses, this new developmental math program focuses on improving core areas of weakness and moving students into college-level math as soon as possible.

“Both the Governor and the General Assembly have encouraged agencies to look for efficiencies,” said Spalding. “Community colleges have made great strides forward. The funds we are asking to reinvest in other priorities come from savings we have generated.”

The campaign, The Developmental Dividend: Reinvest $36.8 Million in NC Community Colleges, splits funds between two different initiatives. Governor Pat McCrory has given a very strong endorsement to this proposal stating that he wants legislators to allow North Carolina’s 58 community colleges to retain and repurpose money they have saved to train more students in high-demand fields so their region’s employers can hire for hard-to-fill positions.

“Many businesses tell us that we need more graduates in certain degrees and certain specialties, and we need to reward our schools for doing just that,” the governor said in a recent interview.

Reinvesting the developmental dividend efficiencies, as well as non-recurring funds in our current budget, will enable support for the strategic priorities that we all agree are critical for North Carolina’s economic success: closing the skills gap and increasing the quality of educational and training programs.

Closing the Skills Gap – $16.8 million of the developmental dividend savings would go toward increased funding for the highest-cost curriculum programs and short-term, credential-focused courses that prepare students for immediate employment in fields with demonstrated skills gaps such as health sciences, engineering, construction, manufacturing, transportation, and biotechnology fields.

Workers in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields play a direct role in driving economic growth. A recent Brookings report cites that there are many STEM jobs that require less than a bachelor’s degree. In fact, “half of all STEM jobs are available to workers without a four-year college degree, and these jobs pay $53,000 on average – a wage 10 percent higher than jobs with similar educational requirements,” according to the Brookings study.

Increasing Quality – $20.1 million would ensure quality instruction and student services by raising the level of support for all instruction. These reinvested funds would enable colleges to determine local solutions for improving student success and meeting industry needs.

While the portion of these funds that the College would receive cannot yet be determined, Rowan-Cabarrus usually receives about four percent of the state community college budget.

“We urge the N.C. General Assembly to support North Carolina’s economic recovery by reinvesting $36.8 million in the state’s community colleges,” said Dakeita Vanderburg-Johnson, chair of the College’s legislative committee. “Rowan-Cabarrus Community College in particular has worked very hard to provide high-quality, affordable education to our citizens. They need and deserve our support.”

The campaign also calls for raises for faculty and staff. Community college faculty and staff – the keys to successful student outcomes – continue to be paid significantly less than national and regional averages.

“In any other industry, paying people what they’re worth in terms of education and experience is a no-brainer. For some reason, educators are consistently underpaid, even though they contribute much to the country’s long-term economic prosperity,” said Carl M. Short, chair of the College’s Board of Trustees.

“Community college faculty and staff continue to be paid significantly less than national and regional averages. North Carolina’s average faculty salary ranks 11th in the 16-state Southeast Regional Education Board area and 41st nationally. We ask the General Assembly to provide the funds to support all educators in North Carolina with a salary that reflects the value they bring to our students and our community,” said Spalding.

Providing the region with exemplary public higher education that anticipates and supports economic and workforce development while increasing, improving and automating services and curriculum programming is a top priority for the College.

“The reality is that we are not immune to the tough economic times. Our resources from the state have continued to decline year after year. Like many public organizations, we are also seeking private philanthropic resources,” said Spalding. “We’ve worked hard to bring millions of federal and state dollars into our community through grants and collaborative partnerships. We cannot achieve our goal of strengthening our region through state-of-the art educational and innovational career training without adequate resources.”

The three resolutions include support for:

  • The renovation of a Cabarrus educational facility for cosmetology and related programs to replace the existing rental space at Cloverleaf Campus,
  • A November 2014 Cabarrus County bond referendum, and
  • A General Assembly campaign entitled “Support North Carolina’s Economic Recovery by Reinvesting Funds in the State’s Community Colleges.” 

“During recent years of economic turmoil, Rowan-Cabarrus has been a prominent force in attracting and leveraging federal, state and local resources to improve programs and services for the community while ensuring that displaced workers and other citizens receive the training they need to succeed in the workplace. It is essential that the College receives the community support and resources needed to continue on this path and fulfill its stated mission of public higher education,” said Short.

For more information about Rowan-Cabarrus Community College, please visit www.rccc.edu or call 704-216-RCCC (7222).

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