Growing pains at Haywood Community College
In preparing for Haywood Community College’s first post-pandemic budget, President Dr. Shelley White presented a stable operating budget but asked for substantial capital spending in line with the school’s growth.
“Although this has been a year of challenges for all of us through the pandemic, it has also been a year of opportunity for Haywood Community College,” White told commissioners on April 19.
White’s budget presentation requests a meager increase — just 3 percent or about $90,000 above last year’s operating budget of $3.02 million.
The operating budget increase is needed at least in part due to the substantial expansion in floor space at the school. Including the new Health Sciences Education building that’s soon to be built, HCC has added more than 100,000 square feet of space in the past six years and now totals around 400,000 square feet. Part of the budget increase requested by White, totaling $45,000, would pay for an additional maintenance position.
“In looking at the increased demands on our current maintenance staff, this request would assist [that], as well as the additional specialty laboratories that require unique maintenance skill sets, such as our burn tower for firefighter training,” White said.
Another $25,000 is needed for a mandated five-year inspection of the burn building at HCC’s public safety training facility. According to White’s presentation, the inspection comes at the recommendation of the National Fire Protection Association, and will review burn props, equipment and building structure.
The final portion of White’s request would address the increasing need for additional sanitation and PPE supplies, on the order of about $20,000.
“As we are planning a more in-person fall schedule, we anticipate the need for increased cleaning supplies and other supplies to support that return,” she said.
The capital outlay portion of the budget, however, asks for more substantial funding for several projects. After spending just $30,000 last year, the proposed budget asks for $350,000 this year.
Of that, $75,000 is earmarked for advanced planning for an entrance project at Armory Drive, which receives up to 40 percent of all HCC traffic. A retaining wall and infill project would flatten out the grade at that location, making it easier for larger vehicles to enter and exit campus. The project would begin once additional funding becomes available.
“With increased usage, we would like to improve that entrance/exit to campus,” White said. “The usage it has seen over the years, it has begun to deteriorate even more.”
The Regional High Tech Center also needs upgrades to building components, reconfiguration of some of the spaces and a roof recovering, to the tune of $225,000.
“This building was first built in 1986 and is 27,000 square feet. It has had in the past couple of years a skylight replaced, which had some issues, but also needs a full roof replacement,” said White. “We’ve seen over the years some reupholstery happen, but other than that very few improvements have been made within that facility, so we would love to bring that facility back to be a high-tech showplace.”
Outdated cameras at the Regional Center for the Advancement of Children also need to be replaced, at a cost of $50,000.
The RCAC provides childcare and early learning services and remained open during the pandemic despite enrollment dropping from about 130 children to just 30.
“We were committed to remain open [during the pandemic],” White said. “We had a lot of parents who were in health care fields and front-line workers and they needed that consistent childcare.”
The state provided support that helped offset some of the revenue declines, but RCAC enrollment figures have now returned to normal. Enrollment at HCC was down just 8 percent for the last available reporting period, the fall term of 2020, but wasn’t down as much for continuing education.
If commissioners approve only the operating budget requests made by White, HCC’s budget would increase from $3.02 million to just over $3.1 million. If the capital requests are also granted, that figure would become $3.46 million.