Editor’s note: This story was modified after original publication to include comments from UNC President Margaret Spellings.
As the N.C. General Assembly drops its state budget for 2018-19, North Carolina’s public colleges and universities vie for money to back career and technical education, employee raises, and system upgrades.
The University of North Carolina and N.C. Community College Systems have in recent months made strides toward a synchronized partnership, collaborating on issues including enrollment, student success, and work force development.
Still, come budget season, each education giant must tout its own priorities and compete for a fixed pile of money. Here’s how both fared.
N.C. Community College System
It’s time for non-traditional education to pull more support from legislators, NCCCS President Peter Hans told Carolina Journal.
Short-term work force education — in fields such as aviation, construction, or industrial manufacturing — will quickly provide students with industry credentials, Hans said.
Under the new budget, NCCCS would receive more than $14 million for those programs.
“This is an important step toward achieving parity in funding so we can help create opportunities for more North Carolinians,” Hans said.
The budget includes more than $24 million to increase pay for NCCCS faculty and staff. Lawmakers also appropriated $4 million to increase retirement contributions for employees. Additionally, the budget funds 2 percent raises — or whatever it takes — to get all system staffers to salaries of $31,200 annually.
NCCCS also would collect $2.7 million to boost slumping enrollment. Another $12 million channeled to individual colleges would fund special projects and programs such as career and technical education, training facilities, and equipment.
University of North Carolina system
The legislature’s budget is good for UNC, and therefore good for North Carolinians, system President Margaret Spellings said Wednesday, May 30.
Lawmakers fully funded a data overhaul — a big issue for the system, she said.
It’s difficult to search out financial information from all 17 campuses, Spellings said. Student and faculty information can also be tough to track down.
The university may soon undergo a tech makeover.
The legislature has mapped out a $9 million proposal for a “data modernization project.” The plan would move $500,000 of one-time money into recurring funds, which UNC would use to build a digital dashboard.
“The legislature’s support allows us to make long-needed, transformational progress in bringing our data systems into the 21st century,” Spellings said.
UNC will also see a pay bump for some of its employees.
Lawmakers allocated $20 million “for salary increases to be awarded based on the priorities of the UNC Board of Governors,” the legislature’s conference committee report says. The budget blocks out nearly $5 million for retirement contributions.
The budget also supplied a 2 percent or more increase to move all staffers to the $31,200 annual salary mark. It remains unclear how those raises will be funded.
“We look forward to continuing to work with the General Assembly during the long session to advocate on behalf of our high-quality faculty and staff,” Spellings said.
Among other notable items, N.C. Promise, which sets tuition at $500 a semester at three UNC schools, will get $11 million in additional cash. Other notables include $1.7 million to support UNC operated “lab schools,” and $1 million to retain university faculty who may be enticed to take higher paying jobs outside the UNC system.