Rowan-Cabarrus Community College officials outline legislative priorities
SALISBURY — Officials at Rowan-Cabarrus Community College outlined four legislative priorities Monday during a meeting with state delegates.
President Dr. Carol Spalding said the college is “all about jobs,” but it needs money to support programs that train and educate local residents.
Spalding said the college's funding requests are in line with those set by the North Carolina Community College System.
The community college system is asking for $33 million non-recurring investment in infrastructure and educational equipment, about $880,000 of which would go to Rowan-Cabarrus.
“A special allocation would help us somewhat in developing new programs,” Spalding said.
Rod Townley, vice president of academic programs, said the college hopes to launch an occupational therapy and physical therapy assistant programs, but the required equipment is costly.
That cost comes in at $150,000 for occupational therapy and $70,000 for physical therapy.
The college is also in need of a $345,000 CNC machine for machining and a $70,000 SIM man, a simulated person that can be used by nursing students to practice their skills.
“The demand for health care and manufacturing jobs has not gone away,” Townley said. “That's where we want to focus most of our energy and funds.”
The college would also like to see the North Carolina Back-to-Work program restructured by spending $5 million statewide, with almost $302,000 going to Rowan-Cabarrus.
“It's good, but we want to restructure it, we need to get people ready for jobs before their benefits run out.”
Jeanie Moore, vice president of advancement and corporate education, said the money is used primary to offset the cost of tuition and materials for laid-off workers who would like to go back to school.
“It's designed to help the hardest-hit unemployed or underemployed,” she said.
Only about 16 colleges across the state are currently participating in the program. They are selected through an application process.
Moore said the program gives participants a chance to earn certification in a number of fields so that they are more likely to find employment.
Spalding said the college would also like lawmakers to consider restoring $7.5 million, about $209,000 of which would come to Rowan-Cabarrus, in previous cuts that can be spent at each college's discretion.
She pointed out that although tuition costs at community colleges has climbed by 58 percent since 2007, that money has not been siphoned back to support the colleges.
State funding is significantly lower at community colleges versus four-year institutions and public school systems, Spalding said.
“We think this is the best investment that anybody can make in the future of the state in terms of higher education and education in general,” she said.
The final request is year-round financial support.
“We're not funded for curriculum in the summer … this is an area we'd like to see change,” Spalding said. “Year-round school is important for people who are laid off and have benefits that will expire in a year or two.”
The college's summer school program is self-supporting, making it limited to add new programs, she said.
N.C. Rep. Linda Johnson, Cabarrus, said she knows the community college system has been the “red-headed stepchild” when it come to funding for equipment and technology and she plans to continue paying attention to those needs.