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Commisioners Consider Community College

A task force commissioned by the Orange County Board of Commissioners will present its findings at tonight's meeting. The task force will urge the commissioners to pursue construction of a Durham Technical Community College satellite campus in Orange County.

"First the board has to accept the report, make a decision on whether to pursue a campus in Orange County," said Moses Carey, chairman of the task force and a county commissioner. "The next step would be to develop a time line and then talk about financing."

The task force has not chosen an exact location for the proposed school, but Carey said the task force is recommending that it be placed in the central part of the county.

Task force member Susan Halkiotis said the addition of a community college in Orange County would be nothing but helpful.

"Orange County residents take advantage of classes at Durham Tech and Alamance Community College," she said. "Right now, that's done in a scattered, kind of catch-can manner, in terms of times."

A new Orange County satellite would be a better, more efficient way for county residents to attend community college, she said.

Halkiotis said she could see no potential drawbacks of having a community college in the county.

"Absolutely none," she said. "I think it's a marvelous idea. There's a host of opportunities (Orange County residents) don't have right now."

As for concern over how to finance the new institution, the $3.1 billion higher education bond has set aside $4 million for construction of the Orange County satellite of DTCC. Halkiotis said funds would also come from the county.

"Part of the state bond money that passed for state higher education would be used and then matching funds from the county would be used," she said.

The task force's report states that the county would have until June 2006 to match the funds, and that "in-kind" contributions would also count. An example of an in-kind contribution would be the county supplying the land for the satellite campus, and that counting toward matching the bond funds.

Barbara Baker, vice president for administrative and supportive services at DTCC and a member of the task force, said the college was now teaching at 40 sites throughout the county. An Orange County campus would make it easier for students to get student support services only offered at the DTCC main campus such as counseling, advising and financial aid, she said.

"Another advantage is we could be closer to the business industry," with which DTCC has close ties, Baker said.

The task force did not set a time line for the project, she said.

"We really are at a step where the county commissioners need to make some decisions."

The City Editor can be reached

at citydesk@unc.edu.

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