Durham Technical Community College President Phail Wynn asked the Orange County Capital Needs Advisory Task Force last Wednesday to consider putting the proposal on the November ballot. If approved, the bond money would be used to build a satellite campus of Durham Tech in Orange County.
Durham Tech spokeswoman Wanda Winslow said having a new community college facility in Orange County would allow the school to expand its offerings and reduce the number of students commuting from Chapel Hill to Durham.
"Twenty-two percent of our enrollment lives in Orange County," Winslow said. "With $4 million, we could build a facility that can serve 1,500 to 2,000 in one day."
Orange County Board of Education member Keith Cook said he understands the need for a community college and why students might not want to commute back and forth between counties. "There are quite a few citizens who go to Alamance County and Durham Technical community colleges, and I do not think they should have to go outside the county," Cook said. "I think helping to continue the education of those who want to get updated on new technology or don't want to go away to a four-year college is fine."
But Cook said he would not put the request for a new community college before the schools, parks or senior citizens of Orange County. "We prioritize (the bonds) by what is more pressing or important," he said. "We need help on county buildings and affordable housing, and citizens need parks."
Orange County Capital Needs Advisory Task Force member Lisa Stuckey said it is too early to make a judgment as to whether the satellite campus will be a top priority to the community of Orange County. "(Durham Tech was) the first group that we heard from," Stuckey said. "Different groups need to make presentations, and we have not heard from them yet."
Stuckey said the task force will continue to hear more bond proposals.
"This week we will hear from both affordable housing (groups) and Orange County schools," Stuckey said.
She said the task force will meet about six more times with other presenters before it makes its final decision at the end of May. "Other task forces yet to present are the library task force and the space needs task force," Stuckey said. "I think it sounds like a great idea. It's just too early."