|CPCC leaders: Bonds alleviate tight spaces|
|$210M referendum for building, renovations|
|Published Wednesday, October 16, 2013 8:19 pm|
In order to grow programs that train people for work, Central Piedmont Community College is looking for more space.
CPCC President Tony Zeiss met with media on Tuesday to pitch the school’s record $210 million bond referendum, which would add 939,500 square feet of classroom space through 10 construction and renovation projects over four years. The bonds are critical to meet growing enrollment – now over 21,000 in full-time equivalents – and demand for an educated work force. The bonds’ repayment is built into Mecklenburg Country’s existing tax structure, which wouldn’t trigger a property tax increase.
“We can’t get there unless we get skilled people, unless we can produce skilled workers,” Zeiss said, noting CPCC’s enrollment has grown 37 percent since the Great Recession of 2008 while funding from the state and Mecklenburg County have fallen 25 percent. “We can’t do that unless we have the space.”
CPCC bonds were last passed in 2007 and the last of that money has been spent on projects under construction now. The state standard calls for a minimum of 100 square feet of space per full-time student; Mecklenburg County’s is 90 square feet. CPCC’s capacity is down to 58 square feet.
“If your demand for services goes up 37 percent at the same time your construction budgets are frozen, you’ve got an issue,” Zeiss said. “You simply cannot accommodate the students who want to finish their degree, certificate or whatever. It’s basically first-come, first-served.”
Five of CPCC’s six campuses would be impacted by the bonds – Harris is the exception – and would primarily be used for land acquisition, construction and renovations. Several of the projects would be joint-use facilities shared with Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, including middle college campuses that prepare high school students for postsecondary education.
“The people of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County, at least in the 21 years I’ve been here, have always understood the need for quality education and the need for quality training, particularly for job training,” Zeiss said. “We’re very optimistic, we’re very excited about it.”
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