North Carolina’s community college system is a crown sitting atop the state’s head. It has offered opportunity to acquire new skills, to learn about a personal interest or to move toward a college degree to millions of students since it began to take shape in the late 1950s and then was championed by the late Gov. Terry Sanford. A jewel in that crown is the multi-campus Wake Technical Community College, now the system’s largest.
On Election Day, Nov. 6, voters will be asked to approve a $200 million bond issue to allow Wake Tech to keep growing, to enroll more students, to train and retrain more workers. Let us hope that those voters say yes, many thousand times yes. At a time when many North Carolinians have lost their jobs, the chance to learn new skills has never been of greater importance. The campuses of Wake Tech are strained for space, even having a waiting list. New space, classroom buildings that bonds would provide, is critical if the need is to be answered.
The school is a magnificent contributor to the county, with such a broad array of courses that tens of thousands of people take at least one course at Wake Tech in a given year. As an economic engine, it’s supercharged. A business looking at a Wake County location, for example, can use Wake Tech to give its workforce the training it needs.
This is an asset that must not be neglected, and the $200 million bond issue will not require a tax increase. (It would max out the county’s borrowing ability.) Community colleges in general and this one in particular deliver many dividends; it’s true that money spent to support them is money invested.
Wake Tech has delivered so much to the county, and its growth must not be stifled. If thousands of people had to be put on waiting lists, it would be a sad comment indeed. Voters will, we hope, affirm their belief in a fine institution that has proven its worth.