Perdue: Don't merge community colleges

Posted July 18, 2011

— Gov. Beverly Perdue on Monday called on lawmakers to reject a proposal to merge several of North Carolina's 58 community colleges to save money.

A recent legislative study found that the community college system is inefficient because each of the campuses is locally autonomous. They lack uniform policies and procedures, and administrative costs per student are about 50 percent higher at smaller colleges, according to the study.

Merging colleges with fewer than 3,000 students into larger campuses nearby could save the state more than $5 million a year by 2018 by combining back-office functions like payroll and information technology and eliminating some administrative positions, according to the study.

Halifax Community College in Weldon, Nash Community College in Rocky Mount, Piedmont Community College in Roxboro, Sampson Community College in Clinton and Wilson Community College in Wilson are among the campuses that could be closed under the proposal.

Lawmakers haven't yet addressed the study, but Perdue said the plan amounts to an attack on rural North Carolina and would harm both the state's education system and its economic development efforts.

"North Carolina’s community college system is absolutely crucial to our economic development engine. I cannot say this loudly enough,” she said in a statement. “I have talked to hundreds of companies that specifically choose North Carolina because they know the local community colleges will train the workers they need.

"Take away the community colleges, and where will those businesses turn for workers? What other state – or country – will get our jobs instead?”

Although the study cited local control as a measure of inefficiency, Perdue said such autonomy meets local needs.


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  • ncscarlett23 Jul 22, 2011

    jason19, do you condone the large staffs and administrations at community colleges that are the status quo with a heavy load of adjuncts? At the community college I work for, we asked for an instructor position that was desperately needed but were told the funding was not there. Within three months of that statement, they hired two completely new deans (new created positions) and one (newly created director position). We have not had a growth in enrollment. We actually went down from the previous academic year.
    I think the primary problem here is that people are unaware of a community college and how many positions are created with no merit and with questionable requirements. One college will require a doctorate for a dean while another will require only a bachelor's degree. They write the position for who they want to give it to. It is not their money; it is the taxpayer's money. With instructors, they cannot do that because our requirements are set by SACS.

  • ncscarlett23 Jul 22, 2011

    Jason19 - what evidence do you have to support your claims about Satellite campuses. I have worked at a satellite campus for 10+ years, and that is not the case. Even if that was a possibility, the legislature can attach standards where the money for a multicampus structure is divided based on student population percentage. Not to mention, something you are probably unaware of, the county(ies) each community college services provide funding as well for the satellite campus that serves them apart from the central campus.

  • Qwerty27807 Jul 19, 2011

    Based on my experiences with providing contract services to several community colleges, there is a lot of deadwood on their administrative staffs.

  • jason19 Jul 19, 2011

    "guess there is a reading comprehension problem going on from some of the posts I'm reading.

    They're talking about consolidating admin level positions, not shutting down CC's."--Nancy

    I don't think anyone has suggested they are closing the colleges. I understand exactly what they are doing, and I simply do not think that it's a good idea long-term. Just because I do not agree does not mean that I cannot read. I know they are "just" gutting administration, and I think the long-term effects of doing that would be negative for the merged colleges and their communities. And I have stated the reasons I believe that to be.

  • jason19 Jul 19, 2011

    beachboater, while I respect what you are saying, I would argue that your analogy is flawed from the get-go.

    First, I would argue that the community colleges are separate "businesses." At least, that's how we founded them to be. Going by your analogy, most separate businesses would not use the same workers; they'd have their own workers.

    Second, what makes you think that these people are "playing Solitaire?" How do you know they're not working? Realize that, precisely *because* these colleges are small and rural, they receive less funding for administration. Therefore, existing administration is expected to pick up the slack.

    In addition, because of that lack of funding, most administrative workers at these colleges perform multiple jobs. Example: I know one college where one person does purchasing, inventory, and HR. That's normally a job for three (or more) people. Another: the HR person is also an admin assistant. And their pay is usually still less.

  • affirmativediversity Jul 19, 2011

    I guess there is a reading comprehension problem ...
    They're talking about consolidating admin level positions, not shutting down CC's. per Nancy


    Point taken but why automatically cut the admin services at the smaller rural community colleges...why can't the admin services at the larger urban colleges be cut and re allocated to the rural ones.

    Some of us are tired of paying the same tax rate for State services that we have to drive miles to access in almost every instance.
    For example...I live in a county that's entire compliment of State offices/services consists of a Court House (11 staff total) with a "satelitte" District Attorney & Public Defenders office, plus(5 staff total), a small probation and parole office (10 staff) and a two person driver's license office.
    Over the past 3 years we've lost one adult prison (50 positions)and one youth offender program (30 positions) AND had ALL highway expansion plans cut.

  • Nancy Jul 19, 2011

    I guess there is a reading comprehension problem going on from some of the posts I'm reading.

    They're talking about consolidating admin level positions, not shutting down CC's.

    I think that would be a good way to cut some costs and still offer the CC's that are very popular.

  • affirmativediversity Jul 19, 2011

    Okay, this is something I never thought I'd be posting BUT I agree with Perdue on this issue.

    I don't want to see the smaller community colleges "rolled into the bigger ones"...small colleges serve a very useful purpose both to students and local industry.

    If we have to save money I'd rather the opposite happen...NC needs to start decentralizing its services...stop grouping everything in the larger urban areas...start moving some of those programs only offered at the larger community colleges and move them to the smaller ones...I bet those smaller colleges will do a better academic job and with fewer admin staff.

  • beachboater Jul 19, 2011

    Bev will never give up the opportunity to spend money. Look at any successful business and I guarantee that you will find fewer employees doing the same amount of work as a government department.

    It has been proven time and time again, throwing money at education does not work. You have to plan and pay for what you need. A blank check fixes nothing.

  • beachboater Jul 19, 2011

    As someone else mentioned, I have not seen anything about closing any schools. Only combining of the administration functions.

    Now, Jason19.....Let's just say you own a business with 50 employees including one bookkeeper. The bookkeeper makes $30k a year. She does payroll for the 50 employees and keeps the records.

    Now, you decide that you need to open a new location in addition to the one you already have. You will only have 20 employees at this location. You hire another bookkeeper to do payroll etc at $30k a year and everything runs smoothly. Both bookkeepers get to play a lot of solitaire.

    Now, I do the same thing as you, but I let all the bookkeeping stay with the original location. I'm making $30 a year more than you right to start with. And the only bad thing is that my single bookkeeper doesn't get to play as much solitaire.

    Does this make any sense to you?