General Assembly Neglects NC Community Colleges

  1. general assembly neglects
    north carolina community colleges

    ncccfa president don wildman's comments on the 2003 budget at a press conference in raleigh on july 2:


    "the north carolina general assembly has just completed and governor easley has just signed into law the new state budget for 2003-2005. for the last several months, the north carolina community college faculty association, along with community college presidents and trustees and the north carolina community college system, has worked in support of a state budget that adequately provides funding for our colleges. such a budget would have included full funding for the enrollment growth already experienced by our colleges this past year, funding for the equipment needs to meet the learning requirements of our students, and adequate funding for faculty and staff who provide quality instruction in our classrooms.

    "although the newly passed state budget includes full funding for last year's enrollment growth, it includes no funds for equipment needs. and almost $10 million in cuts in instructional support funds will inevitably reduce the amount of this enrollment growth funding that actually reaches the classroom. the new budget also includes a of 1 percent salary increase for community college faculty and professional staff in addition to the $550 bonus given to other state employees.

    "while recognizing the challenges facing north carolina and our political leaders during this period of state revenue shortfall, the executive board of the north carolina community college faculty association feels that the 2003-2005 state budget, as approved, falls tragically short of meeting the needs of north carolina's community colleges.

    "even though north carolina's community colleges are expected to continue to grow in excess of 10 percent next year, state support for community colleges declines next year by over $7 million. this continues a more than thirty-year trend of inadequate funding for our colleges.

    "recently the north carolina general assembly passed a resolution praising the founders of north carolina's community colleges and lauding forty years of community college service to the state. many of those who spoke in support of the resolution cited the countless number of citizens' lives that education at our colleges has changed and improved. though many legislators praised our community colleges for delivering more value at less expense to the state than any other state institution, others admitted to the embarrassingly poor way in which our colleges have been supported. the new budget does little to change this history of neglect.

    "the most egregious and most long-term funding failure for our community colleges is in salary for community college faculty. north carolina community college faculty are currently paid at a level that is 47th in the nation. they are paid on average over $9,200 a year less than their colleagues throughout the country -- 20 percent below the national average. in fact, many community college faculty are paid $8,000 to $10,000 a year less than their counterparts in the north carolina public schools, where salaries are currently 23rd in the nation. these documented facts are well known within the halls of the north carolina general assembly.

    "both governor easley, in his state of the state address, and the north carolina general assembly, in its budget, have acknowledged this problem by including a of 1 percent salary increase for community college faculty and professional staff in addition to the bonus appropriated for other state employees. while we appreciate this average $15-a-month increase in pay, we, the leadership of the north carolina community college faculty association, feel compelled to point out that this .5 percent does little to change the current faculty salary situation. since this budget gives north carolina's public school teachers a 1.8-percent salary increase this year and since tuition increases can be used for additional salary increases at our universities, current inequities will continue to grow. continuation of this salary inequity jeopardizes the quality of education that both the citizens of north carolina and the leaders of north carolina business and industry have come to rely !
    on from their community colleges.

    "during this legislative session, bills were introduced to initiate a five-year plan to raise community college faculty and professional staff salaries to the national average in meaningful annual steps. the funds required each year to do this would total less than of 1 percent of the state's annual $8.5 billion education budget. the north carolina community college faculty association recognizes and applauds the support shown for our community colleges by the sponsors of these bills in the senate and house.

    "unfortunately, the bills never got out of committee. this one fact speaks to community college faculty and staff more eloquently than all the praise given during the anniversary celebration ever could. once again, our state's leaders have passed up an opportunity to remedy a 30-plus-year neglect of community college faculty and staff salaries.

    "throughout the budget process this year, we feared that the legislature's failure to address faculty and professional staff salaries in a meaningful way would seriously threaten the quality of instruction in the community college classroom. we feared that eligible faculty would quickly seek to retire, that recently hired faculty would decide not to continue careers in community college education, and that we would be unable to hire quality replacements when 47th in the nation in salary is all they can look forward to in the foreseeable future.

    "a key strength of our community colleges has been their ability to maintain smaller class sizes than those found in four-year institutions. but fewer faculty will mean fewer course offerings and larger classes. our students will no longer be able to find the classes that they need to fulfill their academic and life-enrichment goals. the classes they will find will be scheduled at times when family and employment obligations may prevent them from attending. larger class size will inevitably erode the quality of instruction our students deserve.

    "continued neglect of community college faculty salaries strip community college faculty of hope. with no indication of change in the deplorable salary situation in the foreseeable future and with the recent annual decline in employee health care benefits, current community college faculty are left with little incentive to stay within the system. as current faculty leave, there remains absolutely no inducement for new faculty to come on board. continued indifference by the general assembly to the serious funding problems in our community college system dangerously compromises the quality of north carolina's workforce preparedness. this decline in quality will undermine the economic recovery and threaten the economic future of the citizens of the state."

    penny wise and pound foolish!

    my community college is a wonderful institution. it is a valuable resource in this nafta-stripped, economically-depressed area of the state. the faculty (especially the nursing instructors) work long and hard. our students are equipped with marketable job skills/ degrees and are transformed into tax-paying, productive members of society.
    many of our nursing faculty have retired or left and we are faced with a shortage of instructors, as we are unable to find replacements (not even bsn nurses are responding to our want-ads). fifteen other cc across the state are also facing critical shortages in nursing faculty. very low salaries, poor benefits make faculty nursing positions unattractive to potential candidates. we are at a breaking point.

    Last edit by VickyRN on Jul 12, '03
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    About VickyRN

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    Nurse Educator; from US
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  3. by   VickyRN
    This is BAD news for future nursing students in North Carolina. The legislators have turned a deaf ear to our pleas. 15 cc across the state are having serious problems finding and retaining nursing faculty. To make matters worse, most of the state's nursing faculty are "graying out" and will soon retire. Who will be there to educate our future nurses?
    Last edit by VickyRN on Jul 12, '03
  4. by   VickyRN
    THE CARY NEWS published the following point-of-view article, written by Suzy Barile, an English instructor at Wake Technical Community College, on Thursday, July 10, 2003.


    By Suzy Barile

    During Julie Carlson's fifth-grade composition class in Newport, R.L, the writing bug bit me. But the "headline" title of my first short story-"The Mysterious Little Elf-assured I was headed towards journalism, not creative writing.

    Foreshadowing held true and I spent more than 20-plus years on community and daily newspapers, earning a master's degree in education along the way. In the fall of 1999, I taught my first English class at Wake Technical Community College in Raleigh. I was hooked.

    Community college students are a diverse group. Some work full-time and take classes at night; some are older, seeking new careers after experiencing layoffs. Others are international students learning our language and a skill, while still others are university transfer students enjoying the smaller class size and lower tuition community colleges offer.

    Matching that reduced tuition are reduced salaries: The average North Carolina community college instructor's salary ranks 47th in the nation-from the top, not the bottom. And the General Assembly's new budget with its half-percent salary increase promises there will be no movement from that low ranking.

    This is unfortunate, for community college instructors are a dedicated bunch. But they are an increasingly weary bunch, for most are teaching five to six courses every semester, a course load even a university professor would refuse. Granted, these university counterparts are often under the "publish or perish" tenure standard that community college instructors do not face, but when would there be time? Teaching four freshman composition classes means grading nearly 800 draft and final essays in one semester! For me, the occasional freelance writing assignment is all that is manageable.

    This is why I am a staunch supporter of the N.C. Community College Faculty Association's campaign to gain a commitment from the General Assembly to bring the salary level of community college faculty to the national average within five years.

    While North Carolina's economic hardship doesn't encourage optimism, it cannot be a roadblock. Our universities are overcrowded and our community colleges are absorbing those who are turned away. In fact, community college enrollment growth this past year was 10 percent.

    If our state's leaders are to remain true to their pledge of top-notch education, they must commit to commensurate teacher salaries-at all levels. Public school teacher pay has been increased in recent years, and many teachers with master's degrees can't afford to teach community college. University professors are also doing well, with the average salary ranking eighth in the nation-at $69,369, this is twice the average of community college instructors.

    With all North Carolina has to gain through its community college system, salary raises for its faculty cannot remain on the back burner. It's not too early for legislators to begin working on next year's plan: 47th from the BOTTOM wouldn't be bad!

    Cary resident Suzy Barile teaches English at Wake Technical Community College
  5. by   VickyRN
    Oh, another "gift" from the legislature this year. Our insurance premiums have been raised from $360/month to $420. Yep, they sure want to recruit and retain faculty (NOT!!!).
  6. by   VickyRN
    Just had another 118 people in our area lose their jobs (their jobs are "going south" ). There is NAFTA grant money available for them to retrain, but they only have 18 months-2 years to do so. It is sad and frustrating that we cannot accomodate all those who want to go into nursing (which is a very lucrative and sought-after field around here) because of lack of STATE support.
  7. by   VickyRN
    Martin Lancaster, president of the NC Community College System, has sent out a memo stating, "We are facing a crisis in nursing faculty...."
    His solution: another online Nursing Education Program (this time at UNCG) How can a teacher who is already drowning in overwork find the time to even think about beginning a Master's program?
    My reply to Mr. Lancaster on his 'solution:' "With all due respects, the only answer to the nursing faculty crisis in the cc across the state is a hefty INCREASE in nursing faculty salaries and benefits. I am a recent nursing faculty addition to ------. I have a BSN and took a $10,000/year pay cut from my former staff nursing job at -------- when I became a member of nursing faculty. I am also paying $360 dollars/month for health benefits for my family with the state teachers insurance system (soon to be increased to $420/month). At my former place of employment (-----), I was only paying $100 month for both major medical AND dental insurance for my family."
    His reply to me (at least he replied): "That CERTAINLY would help and we're working on it! One of the recommendations likely to come out of the Nursing Task Force is for "high cost funding" for nursing which hopefully will address the salary and equipment challenges of a quality program." Ah, another committee
  8. by   VickyRN

    By Angela D. Forest : The Herald-Sun
    Aug 6, 2003 : 3:34 pm ET

    RALEIGH -- Within the House and Senate chambers of the State Legislative Building on June 3, the speeches came one after another, full of admiration, respect and genuine appreciation for the work of the state's 58 community colleges.

    The comments by several senators, who spoke for almost 30 minutes on the N.C. Community College System's 40th anniversary, were heartfelt, impassioned and generally the same: Community colleges play a vital role in educating the state's residents and are essential to pulling North Carolina out of its economic hole.

    "In these times of trouble, our greatest hope is the community college system," said Sen. Walter Dalton, D-Rutherford.

    But when the General Assembly passed the current state budget in late June, community college officials were left wondering what happened to the good feelings. With colleges overall losing $10.5 million in state funding from the year before, and House and Senate bills to raise community college faculty salaries stalled in committee, those in the system felt like a spurned lover, jilted not just once, but many times over. System officials have noted that even in good economic times, community colleges have not been adequately financed by the state.

    The Herald-Sun spoke with some of the lawmakers who had praised the colleges to find out why their words did not translate into more state dollars for the schools. They included Sen. Robert Pittenger, R-Mecklenburg; Sen. Virginia Foxx, R-Watauga; Rep. Marian McLawhorn, D-Pitt; and Rep. Alex Warner, D-Cumberland.

    Foxx is a former president of Mayland Community College and Pittenger serves on the foundation board of Central Piedmont Community College.

    McLawhorn taught library media courses at Lenoir Community College, but left after three years for the public schools because the pay was better, she said. Warner taught at Fayetteville Technical Community College for four years. He then went on to teach at Fayetteville State University for 18 years.

    Do you feel the current fiscal year budget is a good deal for community colleges?

    McLawhorn: "I don't think the funding was enough. But I don't think the funding was enough for most of the agencies that are funded through the budget. I think, however, that we did the best that we could under the circumstances that we were faced with."

    Foxx: "I don't think community colleges have gotten their fair share of the dollars that go into education in North Carolina. I think it's way too tilted toward the universities. You have more legislators who've graduated from the universities than have graduated from the community colleges so they identify with the universities and want to give them money."

    Pittenger: "I still feel like they're underfunded. I think we have a great deal of work to do in prioritizing and better managing our resources. There's a tremendous amount of resources that could be made available through better fiscal accountability and through better efficiencies."

    Warner: "I think we've got miles and miles to go to be able to satisfy the budget [for community colleges] for what we're asking the community colleges for in performance. We've given them the responsibility for not only retooling our industry that's moved out of state in areas like the furniture and textile jobs that we lost after NAFTA; the community college has stood right there retraining all those people who were immediately laid off."

    Why do you think identical House and Senate bills designated to start raising community college faculty salaries to the national average didn't go anywhere last session?

    Foxx: "Because it costs a lot of money. [Legislators] just don't understand the importance of doing this. They're thinking about the basket-weaving teacher, you see. They're not thinking about the [instructor] with real technical skills that they need to attract."

    Pittenger: "I supported that bill in the Senate. There were a lot of good bills that got left on the table. Again, it's about priorities."

    What do you believe keeps the state from providing the greater level of funding that you say community colleges need?

    Warner: "You have to look at the political ramifications. How many lobbying groups do you have that support the public schools? How many lobbying groups do you have that are supporting the universities? The community college system lacks that kind of support and muscle. It does not have the political legs of support of the public schools and particularly the university system."

    Pittenger: "Regrettably I'm in the minority, and the majority definitely rules in the state Senate. More people clamor about public education in terms of the elementary schools and the universities. It's the squeaky-wheel syndrome. The reality is the power is in the hands of a few people in Raleigh. Until those few people are touched and you cause them to focus on certain areas, it's just hard to divert their attention."

    Do you think there are things that community colleges could do better? What do you see as weaknesses in the operation of the system or individual campuses?

    McLawhorn: I don't know of specific areas [in need of improvement] within specific campuses. To my knowledge I think [Community College System] President [Martin] Lancaster does a wonderful job. One of the meetings we attended while we were in session, one of the committees had invited a guest speaker from Illinois. I asked [the speaker] about the community college system. He said it's perceived in other states as being a wonderful system. He said, 'That's one thing that you're doing right.' "

    Foxx: I think their strength is also their weakness. Their strength is that they're able to do a lot for a lot of different people, but that's also a weakness in that some legislators see continuing education classes and equate what happens at a community college with that, rather than some of the rigorous things that are done.

    What do you think legislators and community college officials could do to get the community college system more recognition and funding compared to that of the public schools and universities?

    Foxx: I think what's going to have to happen is that [colleges] are going to have to prove directly what they are doing to help with business and industry in the state, and I don't think they are doing as good a job as they might do to show what they are doing to keep vital jobs in the state.

    Warner: I think just for the general knowledge that's been brought [by the system] back to us for research and comparison, particularly in the Southeast for as low as the salaries are for the community colleges. I think the knowledge is there and any legislator that does not know the needs of the community college system simply has been tuned out somewhere.
  9. by   bellehill
    I had no idea that NC Community Colleges were in so much trouble. I recieved my ADN from Cape Fear CC and I loved every minute of it. The teachers were awesome and the curriculum was exceptional. In fact, we had a higher NCLEX pass-rate than the four-year university (class sizes were the same). Last year my husband and I left NC due to the economic downturn, boy do I miss it. Hopefully someone will realize what the future holds without education and be able to fix this problem. Good luck to you!
  10. by   VickyRN
    Please write our legislators and repeat what you stated here. If we are "squeaky" enough, they will finally listen!
  11. by   NATTY SN
    Wow!!!!! Vicky do you have to be a resident of North Carolina or can anyone write in to help!!!!! I was born in NC and was thinking of moving back after I graduate so can I do something or not. Please let me know.
  12. by   VickyRN
    Vicky do you have to be a resident of North Carolina or can anyone write in to help!!!!!
    By all means, send an email to the above addresses. The more people who contact them the better, whether NC residents or not. Thank you for your help and concern
  13. by   VickyRN
    The following point-of-view article from Bob Costa, an instructor at Rockingham Community College, appeared in the Greensboro News and Record on August 11.



    By Bob Costa
    News & Record

    The News & Record recently reported two stories pertaining to state funding of education. First, it reported that the recently passed budget "supports education" and second, that North Carolina teachers are among the highest paid in the Southeast.

    I teach business at Rockingham Community College in Wentworth. At RCC, all employees, including our hard-working staff, love what we do. We respect and admire our many tenacious students who are finding their paths. Within the community, we treasure relationships with those who employ our graduates, and those who help us to conduct numerous workshops at our facilities.

    Despite a plethora of perfunctory promises, the Appropriations Committees of both the Senate and the House, and the governor, have discarded two bills for community college fair pay adjustments (H850 and S853). These adjustments were to be phased in over five years.

    For the past five years, the state has granted community college employees a cumulative total approximate increase of 11.7 percent (including this year's 0.5 percent adjustment and any one-time bonuses). Changes to our health plan have offset this increase by an estimated 1.6 percent. During this same time, the consumer price index for the Southeast has increased 18.4 percent. Therefore, community college employees' net change in disposable income is -8.3 percent.

    Teacher pay in North Carolina's K-12 schools truly competes well in the Southeast and nationally. However, N.C. community college teachers rank 47th in pay nationally.

    The sponsors of H850 (McLawhorn, Sexton, C. Johnson, Warner and others) and S853 (Metcalf, Garwood and Lucas) filed these bills in an attempt to correct this inequity. We are grateful for this effort.

    However, these bills disappeared in Appropriations Committee meetings. We ask all voters who believe in the community college system to help by demanding explanations and corrective action.

    The demands on community colleges continue to escalate in a state economy devastated by "competitive" corporations pursuing Third World exploitation. At RCC, many fall class sizes are already higher than room capacities. This development will mean more "free overtime" for many of us. Indications are this problem is surfacing all over the state. We, like Aretha, might ask for "just a little respect."

    Your support will always be remembered.
  14. by   VickyRN
    Dear Governor Easley,

    I am the immediate past President of the North Carolina Community College Faculty Association and an instructor at Rockingham Community College in Wentworth, NC. I have been teaching here for 28 years.

    In your State Of The State Address you said, "Our Community College professors are 47th in the nation in pay. We must cure that inequity if we are to remain competitive in worker training. We cannot do it all this year, but we will get started."

    The General Assembly recently passed a budget which will provide me with a one time $550.00 bonus and a .5% salary increase along with a 17% hike in dependent health care insurance coverage. The net effect of this will be that my paycheck will be smaller this year than what it was last year.

    Given what you said in your speech to the state, I would respectfully like to ask, in what way do you perceive that the process of curing the inequity in my salary has been started? I would also like to ask what your long-term plan is to actually cure the inequity?


    James A. J. Davies II