HAMLET —The president of Richmond Community College said he supports passage of a $2 billion bond referendum because of what it could do not only for his school, but the region.
Gov. Pat McCrory recently signed a bill that will allow voters to decide in March on the passage of the bond that will fund higher education, parks and other infrastructure. If voters pass the bond referendum, Richmond Community College will receive $7.22 million for long-standing facility improvements and renovations.
“If this bond passes, it will be a huge savings for the people of Richmond and Scotland counties,” Dr. Dale McInnis, president of Richmond Community College, said. “This bond would pay for on-going, much-needed improvements for the College that would otherwise come out of the budgets of both counties.”
It has been 15 years since the last state bond passed for community colleges.
“Every facility improvement we’ve identified supports our students and their needs,” McInnis said. “As we have continued to grow in enrollment, services and academic programs, we are finding ourselves at full capacity. This bond would allow us to continue building for the future and adding new programs that will position our graduates for careers in the 21st century.”
A catalyst for the college’s growth in attendance has been the expansion of its curriculum. The college has added new programs and courses and expanded its online offerings, which has created a need for additional computer labs.
The college’s dual enrollment program and early colleges have experienced significant growth just in the past year as more residents of Richmond and Scotland counties are taking advantage of free college courses for high school students.
“Over the next few months, we will be communicating our needs and goals to educate people about the value of this investment in their local community college,” McInnis said.
The college’s board of trustees approved at its October meeting the use of the bond money toward previously identified needs through the college’s master facilities plan and deferred facilities plan. As approved by the board, bond money would fund:
— New and expanded classrooms, labs and shops
— New Student Career and Transfer Center
— Expanded space for Richmond Early College High School
— Expanded student testing space
— New cafeteria and student dining room
— New and repaired parking lots
— Expanded bookstore
According to the bill passed by the General Assembly last month, $980 million will go toward capital improvements for the University of North Carolina system, and $350 million will be split among the state’s 58 community colleges.
Included in the bond’s request is $23 million for the construction of a building to accommodate The University of North Carolina at Pembroke ’s growing Business School.
McCrory, who visited UNCP on Thursday, said that the important thing about the referendum is that the voters of North Carolina are getting the chance to approve the way their tax dollars are being spent.
“Even with borrowing the $2 billion, we will have less of a deficit in five years than we have today,” McCrory said. “There will not have to be any tax increase to pay for all of this.”