|North Carolina's community colleges could save about $5 million a year by folding administration and back-office work at the smallest campuses into larger neighbors, according to a legislative efficiency report released this week.
But campus leaders are balking at the proposal, saying $5 million a year in savings is small compared to the disruptions the mergers would cause.
"If the recommendation to consolidate colleges is implemented, it would devastate our rural communities," said Mary Kirk, president of the N.C. Association of Community College Presidents. "It is all they have. Our rural citizens would no longer have access to the same level of affordable education and training."
The General Assembly's program evaluation division reported that merging the administration at 15 of the smallest colleges into bigger campuses within 30 miles, and forming a purchasing cooperative to get volume discounts, would save nearly $30 million over six years.
No campuses at the country's third-largest system would close. The schools with fewer than 3,000 full-time students would lose their separate presidents, payroll departments and other administrative functions to the larger community colleges in the merger.