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Commissioners, PCC trustees discuss future needs

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Pitt County commissioners and staff join Pitt Community's College's trustees and administrators in a tour of the industrial systems technology lab located in the Walter and Marie Williams Building.


By Ginger Livingston
The Daily Reflector

Friday, February 23, 2018

Members of Pitt Community College Board of Trustees and the county Board of Commissioners discussed the successes of the school’s current programs and what is needed to expand on that success during a facilities tour and luncheon on Wednesday.

The discussion included a review of future construction needs and programming the school should implement.

“It was important for us to get out here and see what they do,” said Glen Webb, vice chairman of the Board of Commissioners. “It’s one thing to see it in a presentation in the boardroom, it’s a whole other thing to see it out here, look at the facility, see what the taxpayers’ money is doing, see the return on the investment the taxpayers are getting.”

PCC President Dennis Massey showed exactly how much return the community was receiving.

A PCC student enrolled in a career or technical area of study will see their average salary grow from $24,692 to $33,049, according to data from the school’s recently released report on the economic value of PCC.

The study found that for every $1 spent by PCC students, they received $4.40 in gained lifetime earnings, a rate of return of 20 percent, Massey said. Taxpayers received a 12 percent rate of return.

The meeting started with a campus bus tour that departed from the Craig F. Goess Student Center. Massey pointed to the cars traveling along nearby Reedy Branch Road.

“We get a lot of traffic coming through here, not just Pitt traffic,” Massey said. People use Reedy Branch and a street and parking lot through the campus to reach Sam’s Club, he said.

The school is still in discussions with the N.C. Department of Transportation about erecting a four-way stop near Reedy Branch’s intersection with Warren Drive as an attempt to control traffic.

“The reality is the center of campus is the Goess Center,” Massey said. That means a growing number of students have to cross Reedy Branch to reach classes and there is only one pedestrian crossing. Requests for additional pedestrian crossings at different locations have been denied, said Rick Owens, PCC vice president of administrative services.

The group also talked briefly with Tony Gallardo, curriculum coordinator with the school’s industrial systems technology program, which teaches people to service, maintain, repair, or install equipment for a wide range of industries.

Gallardo met the group at Walter and Marie Williams Building, which houses the school’s science programs and the industrial systems technology laboratory. The bulk of a $19.9 million bond approved by voters in 2013 was spent on the Williams building construction, Massey said.

“It’s amazing to know my students are employed right after graduation,” Gallardo said. One recent graduate works for Georgia-Pacific in Duplin County. Her starting salary is $26 an hour and once she passes her 90-day probationary period she will receive a $1 an hour raise for every month, eventually resulting in a $43-an-hour salary.

Gallardo wants to establish a cooperative education program with local industries so students can get actual work experience and a head start in the job search.

“I am very proud of what I do,” Gallardo said.

“I think it’s really great for (the commissioners) to see not just a line item on a budget sheet but to actually see the buildings … hear about the success of the students, see the passion of the faculty and the staff. I think we accomplished that today,” said Peter Kragel, Board of Trustees chairman.

During lunch the commissioners and trustees talked about how people liked to eat, and if a culinary institute, offered either through continuing education or a certificate program, might be needed. There also was discussion about the need for training in food processing and food manufacturing.

Massey also reminded the commissioners of the school’s plan to build a 52,600-square-foot design and workforce technology building with an estimated close of $15 million.

The facility will house existing programs such as advertising and graphic design, criminal justice labs and pharmaceuticals training lab spaces and emerging courses of study such as drone technologies and cyber security. PCC has not formally requested funding for the project, however Massey said in a later interview that officials would like to start planning for it in fiscal year 2018-19, which begins on July 1.

A lot of factors will come into play once a funding request is presented to the Board of Commissioners, Webb said. The county must look at what, if any, revenue is available from the quarter-cent sales tax that funds public school and community college construction projects and what the school system’s funding needs will be.

“We’re definitely supportive of it, it’s just a matter of how we get from A to B,” Webb said.

“I think for all (building projects) we have to consider how they are going to be funded, where that funding is going to come from,” Kragel said. “We are trying to be a little more innovative as we seek funding and split funding sources as much as we can. I think it’s going to be a community effort to fund these buildings.”

Contact Ginger Livingston at glivingston@reflector.com or 252-329-9570. Follow her on Twitter @GingerLGDR.