Piedmont Community College (PCC) President Dr. Walter Bartlett outlined the North Carolina Community College System’s (NCCCS) three budget priorities for 2015-17 on Monday, Feb. 9, during a Legislative Breakfast held on PCC’s Caswell County Campus. Dr. Bartlett discussed long-range plans for PCC that include an Early College High School for Caswell County and the College’s participation in the Caswell Film Initiative, a group seeking to expand and enhance the College’s film program.

Attending were State Representative Bert Jones of Reidsville; Caswell County Commissioners Kenneth D. Travis (Chair), Nathaniel Hall, Jeremiah Jefferies, and David Owen; Caswell County Manager Bryan Miller; and members of the PCC Board of Trustees Donald Wilson (Chair), Ron Booker, Lin Cates, Lin Cates, Tanya Evans, Bayard Crumpton, Lin Cates, Tanya Evans, Gail Stillwell, and Larry Wilkerson.

“Piedmont Community College is a great investment for Caswell County,” said Dr. Bartlett. “The best way to help children is to help their parents. In these economic times, parents sometimes work two or three jobs to support their families. PCC can train them for good-paying jobs. Our goal is to increase the percentage of people in Caswell and Person counties who have industry-recognized credentials/certificates or degrees. This type of workforce development will lead to economic development for Caswell County.”

Dr. Bartlett also announced that PCC has been working with Dr. Brock Womble, Superintendent of the Caswell County Schools, to plan an Early College High School with a target opening date of Fall 2016. Students in this innovative high school would take their high school classes at Bartlett Yancey High School and their college-level classes at PCC. The school would be state-funded and have a targeted population of students who are performing well below their potential and could benefit from accelerated learning.

In addition, PCC operates the Public Safety Training Center in Yanceyville where it trains law enforcement and correction officers. “This brings lots of people in the community; it’s an economic draw. Many of these students come from out of town, and they patronize the local restaurants and businesses,” said Dr. Bartlett.

Noting that during the state’s economic slump, PCC has seen its state budget cut 25%, Dr. Bartlett said PCC has had “to do more with less.” North Carolina community colleges are funded through the North Carolina General Assembly for programming. However, individual counties are responsible for funding the colleges’ capital budgets—property, facilities, and related areas such as utilities, maintenance, and custodial services.

As the NC General Assembly begins deliberating its 2015-2017 budget, the NCCCS has identified three budget priorities for the upcoming biennial:

Closing the Salary Gap: North Carolina Community Colleges are requesting to retain $59 million in recurring funds that they are now required to return to the state as part of management flexibility cuts and, over a two-year period, invest them in instructor and staff salaries to improve the salary average by 5%. This would move NC instructors and staff salaries from a ranking of second to last in the 16 southeast regional states to the middle of the group. Closing the Skills Gap: The NCCCS proposes to employ NCWorks Career Coaches in high schools to serve as career coaches for students. PCC placed transition coaches in the high schools this year to provide these services to students in both Person and Caswell counties. Across the state, the project would cost $7 million over a two-year period.

Closing the Technology Gap: This priority requests $10 million in fiscal year 2015-16 to provide equipment that colleges may use to train students for new technology-based jobs such as technicians and healthcare workers and $5 million in recurring funds to move its IT system to a new operating platform.

Rep. Jones said that he tells people that “community colleges are the best deal around.” As a member of the Education Committee (K-12), he said he would “continue to be an advocate for community colleges and would work to see that the community colleges get their fair share.”

“I know what community colleges mean for the areas I’m privileged to serve,” Rep. Jones said.


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