RALEIGH, N.C. (WGHP) – Two concepts that were introduced recently in the North Carolina Senate have come together in a way to form a third idea that Republicans are pursuing.

State Sen. Amy Galey (R-Alamance), one of the architects of a push to expand school opportunities for families, is back with a bill to change how community colleges are managed, taking the governor out of the picture and centralizing control, as Senators have suggested for boards and commissions.

Amy Galey
NC State Sen. Amy Galey (R-Alamance County) talks about the Parents’ Bill of Rights, anothr of her big bills working through the General Assembly. (AP Photo/Hannah Schoenbaum)

This is Senate Bill 692 – known as the “Community College Governance” bill – which overhauls the system that oversees the 58 community colleges in the state.

Sponsored by Galey, who is the chair of the Senate Education Committee, SB 692 would give the next president of the NC Community Colleges System a more significant role in everything that happens on those campuses and aoo9ws lawmakers virtually majority control in filling every oversight position related to those schools.

That would include new standards for electing local college presidents and a new structure for boards of trustees. The bill also pushes a more coordinated approach among all the community colleges, which could be very important as those schools adjust their curricula to provide the sorts of specialized training that the state’s large new employers – such as Toyota, Boom Supersonic, Vinfast and Wolfspeed, the chip manufacturer – require to fill tens of thousands of desirable jobs.

“Workforce development is one of the most pressing issues facing North Carolina,” Galey said in a release from Senate Republicans. “Employers and workers are counting on our community colleges to tackle the challenge of training our residents in high-demand fields. It’s time to create a more efficient and nimble system to meet our current workforce development needs.”

More control for president

Republicans say that the State Board of Community Colleges has been “bogged down by making administrative decisions that are better handled” by the system president and staff. The bill recasts that role into something akin to a CEO.

Under this bill, the system president would:

  • Assume from the state board many administrative tasks.
  • Review reports and programs related to the success of community college students who transfer to a UNC System school and “making recommendations for programs and courses of study.”
  • Recommend and approve programs for which the state board would allocate funding.
  • Approve the hiring and rehiring of all local community college presidents by reviewing each contract recommended by local boards of trustees. The system president also can dismiss the president if cause for dismissal or termination is met and would have final say-so on any local selection.

Structure of board

Under SB 692, the General Assembly would assume control of electing all members of the state board, reducing the number of appointees from 22 to 18. But there will be an evolutionary process across all levels of management that ultimately removes the governor’s role in oversight of community colleges.

Here’s the setup:

  • By July 2027, the board would consist of 18 members (down from 22), all appointed by the General Assembly. To maintain the terms of the current board members, an interim structure of 21 members would be created, with the General Assembly appointing 18 and the lieutenant governor, state treasurer and the Labor commissioner– or their designees – serving on the board, too,
  • Local boards would remain in place to oversee activities at, say, Guilford, Forsyth, Rockingham and Davidson community colleges. Those boards would be comprised of 12 members, and the General Assembly would fill eight spots and county commissioners the other four. Currently the legislature plays no roles in those appointments.

“It is imperative that local officials play a role in determining the future of their community college,” Sen. Tom McInnis (R-Moore), another sponsor, said in the release. “By having the county commissioners and the General Assembly members appoint the boards, we will be able to have boards that best represent the needs of our residents, students, and employers.”