The Daily Tar Heel
Printing news. Raising hell. Since 1893.
Sunday, March 3, 2024 Newsletters Latest print issue

We keep you informed.

Help us keep going. Donate Today.
The Daily Tar Heel

NC House bill dedicates $2 billion to infrastructure improvements

The bill garnered bipartisan support among legislators and was presented to Gov. Pat McCrory Thursday. McCrory is expected to sign the bill and, if he does, voters will be asked to approve the bonds in March. After the vote, the first bond issuance is expected mid-2016.

The money given to the School of Medicine will be used to replace Berryhill Hall. According to Karen McCall, spokesperson for the School of Medicine, a new building is desperately needed.

“Right now the School of Medicine does not have an appropriate environment in which to instruct medical students — the lack of an adequate building for medical education threatens our accreditation, so a new building has to be a top priority for the University,” she said.

The bill will not entirely cover the $100 million price tag of the new building, but it does reverse the recent trend of decreased state funding — the UNC School of Medicine and the UNC Health Care System have faced a budget cut of 40 percent since 2008, McCall said.

McCall said she is hopeful the state will provide more funding for medical education in the future.

“We are optimistic that the legislature is beginning to recognize the need to provide funding for medical education as witnessed by the $1 million funding of the Medical Scholars Program in this past legislative session,” McCall said.

Funding problems have plagued universities throughout the UNC system since the recession, despite growing student populations.

Drew Moretz, vice president for governmental relations for the UNC system, said there has been tremendous growth in students taking science, technology, engineering and math classes.

“At several of our campuses, the current science buildings were built for a much smaller student body and, with the growth in interest, the facilities aren’t able to serve the increased demand,” he said in an email.

At the same time, Moretz said the UNC system lacks proper funding for repair and renovation.

“We have a tremendous backlog of repair and renovation needs across the system,” he said in an email. “Since the recession, the state has been challenged to provide significant R&R funds, meaning some simple repair needs have turned into major challenges for our campuses.”

Hannah Love, a senior at UNC-Chapel Hill who serves as the co-chapter leader of Students For Education Reform at UNC and media captain for the state chapter, said money needs to be spent on things besides infrastructure for schools.

“Facility improvement is great, but it’s also really important that we have great curriculum and that we have great educators and that we have so many more resources for those (high school) students,” she said.

According to the National Education Association, North Carolina ranked 47th nationally for both average teacher salary, and for state and local government spending per student in K-12 schools during the 2013-14 school year.

“North Carolina historically has been known for having such strong public universities and in the past couple years it just seems more and more of a question if they’re going to stay that way,” Love said.

To get the day's news and headlines in your inbox each morning, sign up for our email newsletters.