CHARLOTTE – Expanding the Merancas Campus is one of 10 projects Central Piedmont Community College hopes to complete if $210 million in education bonds are approved in November, but leaders aren’t yet sure what that expansion will entail. 

CPCC Executive Vice President Kathy Drumm said there are discussions about adding a middle college at the Huntersville campus, which specializes in public safety, automotive and general college transfers.

Specifics on a potential middle college or other campus expansions aren’t ironed out yet, said Rich Rosenthan, associate vice president for facilities and construction.

CPCC would pair the $210 million bond package with $70 million from Mecklenburg County to complete the 10 capital projects.

Of that, $27.5 million is set aside for the Merancas Campus, $1 million of which is to acquire more land.

Yet, because the money would not be given for that project until 2018, the emphasis on details is being placed on projects that are scheduled to happen within the next two years, Rosenthal explained.

Adding a middle college in Huntersville would allow high school juniors and seniors to take college classes while finishing high school. If done right, students can graduate with a high school diploma and associate degree.

The success of Cato Middle College has both Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools and CPCC officials wanting to replicate it, but the trouble is finding space, CPCC President Tony Zeiss said.

CPCC Cato Campus would receive a 100,000-square-foot expansion if bond money was awarded. It’s CPCC’s most crowded campus and comprises less than 50-square-feet of instructional space per full-time student. The state standard is 100 square feet per full-time student, and the county’s standard is 90 square feet, Drumm said.

Each project on CPCC’s list would include adding more instructional space.

CPCC as a whole has slipped from having 79 square feet per full-time student in 2007 to 58 square feet now, making it difficult to accommodate everyone who wants to take classes, Zeiss said.

“We don’t like turning people away,” he said. “We’re a community college and community colleges are proud because we are an open door. We have open access for all of our students; however, that door is closing because of space limitations. That’s why these bonds are so critical.”

If the bonds don’t pass, Zeiss said CPCC would evaluate its priorities and which industries will have the most promise for jobs and be creative in raising money other ways. Some students may be turned away in the process.

“It’s not an enviable thing to do because you’re basically stalling your own economy when you do that,” he said.

For more information about the bond package, visit www.voteyesforbonds.com.