Building fund faces a shortfall

Published 10:15 am Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Staff Writer

The funding needed to build a new Allied Health building at Beaufort County Community College is about $1.1 million short, county leaders learned Monday.
At a joint meeting, County Manager Paul Spruill told the Beaufort County Board of Commissioners and Beaufort County Community College Board of Trustees that he’s optimistic that project construction can begin early next year.
“I’m pretty confident we can cover that,” Spruill said. “The only question is the timing.”
Plans call for the construction of a new building on the east side of the BCCC campus that will house the college’s associate-degree nursing and practical-nursing programs, medical laboratory-technology program and nursing-aide classes and, ultimately, enable the college to admit more students into those programs.
The building was designed “allow both flexibility and expandability at the least cost and allow adjustments to some of these programs as demand dictates,” said BCCC trustee Shields Harvey during the meeting held on the BCCC campus.
Design work for the building is scheduled to be finished in September.
Under an agreement approved earlier by the commissioners and the BCCC trustees, the new building, with an estimated cost of $7.6 million to build and furnish, would be financed by a loan to the county matched by an equal amount of grant money obtained for the project.
To date, a U.S. Department of Agriculture loan in the amount of $3.8 million has been approved, and grants that include a $2.5 million grant from the Economic Development Administration and a $200,000 grant from the Golden LEAF Foundation have been received for the project.
Spruill said the county and BCCC will pursue other grant sources to make up the shortfall.
In related business, BCCC President David McLawhorn presented a budget request to the county that calls for a 1.4 percent increase in county funding for 2010-2011 over the current fiscal year.
The BCCC request, which totals $2.1 million, includes a $793 decrease in funding in the college’s current expense budget and a $30,000 increase in funding for its capital expense budget. Under its capital expense budget, the college is requesting $179,750 in funds for alterations, additions and improvements to buildings — the majority for construction of a new roof for Building 8, which houses the Division of Continuing Education — $7,250 for land and land improvements and $3,000 for maintenance equipment.
In other business, the commissioners:
• Heard a report about a new program designed to increase the number of nursing-school graduates who earn bachelor’s degrees. The plan would allow associate-degree nursing students at Beaufort County, Lenoir, Pitt and other community colleges to also enroll at East Carolina University, Laura Bliley, director of BCCC’s nursing programs, said. The nursing students would complete courses at the community colleges and then transfer to ECU, graduating at the end of four years with associate and bachelor degrees in nursing. The program would be modeled after a similar program operated by Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College and Western Carolina University, she said. If approved, the plan could be implemented in fall 2012, Bliley told the commissioners.
• Heard a report from Lisa Hill, high school and college liaison, about the Beaufort Early College High School currently in its second year on the BCCC campus. The high school has received 118 applications and hopes to accept 50 to 55 students in its third class, bringing the total school enrollment to about 150 students in its third year of operation. Hill said that the goal of the school is to have all of its students graduate with high-school diplomas and associate degrees at the end of five years, but she estimated that about 10 percent of students will not achieve that goal and instead graduate with a high-school diploma and some college credit. Following a question by Commissioner Ed Booth, Hill said a number of young men chosen for admission to the school decline to attend because the school does not offer sports. That was a decision made by the Beaufort County Board of Education when the school was established for fear that it would detract from attendance at college classes, she said.
After meeting with the BCCC trustees, the commissioners heard, but took no action on, a report from Beaufort County Health Director Roxanne Holloman on health-department services.
Holloman’s presentation was part of a discussion of an agreement between the state and the health department that outlines health-related services the county is required to provide during the 2010-2011 fiscal year. The agreement stipulates several new reporting guidelines, among other changes.
The commissioners also heard, but took no action on, a report, from Mike Kupecki, director of East Carolina Behavioral Health, on a proposed mental health Medicaid waiver application. The waiver would give the agency more flexibility in services it provides clients and allow it to set higher standards for those agencies authorized to provide care to clients, Kupecki told the commissioners.
“I think what you’re trying to do is going to solve a lot of problems,” said Commissioner Hood Richardson. “But we want to be sure providers are treated fairly.”
The board will consider a resolution of support for the application at a future meeting, Spruill said.
All commissioners attended the meeting.