In these days of limited, reduced and dwindling resources, partnerships are paramount. Very little gets done well without the convergence of several points of reference, talents and funding. This is true for those who seek daily to accomplish the mission of Johnston Community College.
Among many, two of the strongest partnerships the college has are the relationships that exist with Johnston County commissioners and Johnston County Schools. Through the years, commissioners have worked to uphold their responsibility of financial support to JCC as specified by the general statutes of North Carolina. In turn, JCC has developed educational programs and services for the advancement of economic development throughout the county.
Likewise, the partnership between JCC and Johnston County Schools provides opportunities for students to become trained and educated via seamless pathways of career development. Without the continued partnership of these three organizations, Johnston County would not be the destination county it has become for new families, the biopharmaceutical industry, trucking and logistics, health care expansion and quality-of-life opportunities.
On Nov. 5, citizens of Johnston County will have the occasion to join this partnership by voting to approve the sale of bonds in support of education and economic development in the county. With the promise of no personal property tax increases, the county commissioners have authorized the referendum to come for approval.
Why, one might ask, is such a bond needed? In a short phrase, it is needed to maintain the excellent partnership in existence and prepare for future capacity needs. Johnston Community College serves more than 15,000 students each year in its curriculum and continuing education programs. Since 2009, JCC’s enrollment has grown 26 percent. As a result of recent enrollment growth, building needs and priorities have changed. Many of JCC’s health sciences and technology programs are at enrollment capacity and are housed in less than adequate facilities for 21st century learning. Bond funds would be used to re-evaluate priorities and determine future infrastructure and facility needs.
The amount of traffic as a result of enrollment growth is requiring additional and more efficient use of parking. With exponential growth over the past several years and approximately 50 percent more expected by 2030, re-aligning entryways in support of better traffic flow is a priority. Existing parking lots need refurbishing, and infrastructure such as sidewalks, roofs and building facades are in desperate need of repair. Additionally, the information age in which we live requires the college to be current with appropriate delivery systems complete with redundancy, backbone and equipment.
College needs, along with the many needs represented by Johnston County Schools, have presented a tremendous opportunity for Johnston County to be a part of the solution for what is and what will be. The referendum ballot will reflect two response categories, one for Johnston Community College and one for Johnston County Schools. For the future of our children, our labor force, our economic prosperity, please Check It Twice.
The writer is president of Johnston Community College.