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CCTC aiming to grow in Kershaw County

Posted: September 6, 2013 5:23 p.m.
Updated: September 9, 2013 5:00 a.m.

Central Carolina Technical College (CCTC) opened its first campus in Kershaw County in 2001 in a former Belk’s department store that now also houses the Kershaw County Government Center. CCTC President Dr. Tim Hardee said the downtown campus was “very small then.” He said the goal at that point was to “serve the students of Kershaw County by getting them started (at the downtown Camden campus) and eventually move them to the Sumter campus” to complete their program of study.

In 2007, there were approximately 461 Kershaw County residents taking classes at the Camden campus. By 2012, that number had almost doubled to 898 county residents enrolled and taking classes at both CCTC’s downtown campus and its newer campus located off U.S. 521 at I-20 Exit 98.

“We don’t have the official numbers for 2013 yet,” Hardee said, considering classes only recently began and numbers still fluctuate, “but we will have well over 900 students, 1,000 expected. It’s a good problem.”

The problem is a matter of space.

“The county bought 40 acres there,” Hardee said of the newer campus, adding that the land is intended for “new buildings” for education and economic development.

The Kershaw County Economic Development Office is also located there, along with a few “new programs” offered by CCTC, Hardee said.

However, the current space at the Exit 98 site is limited.

“We can’t continue growth in the existing facilities,” Hardee said. “The classrooms are filled, yet we still have growth.”

County Administrator Vic Carpenter said that developing CCTC at Exit 98 “is part of the county’s long range plan, it’s always been a part of the plan. The college has a plan for their future by what they see as the future of their students. Our hope is to support that vision.”

Carpenter also commented that the 40 acres at Exit 98 are “available” for CCTC, but not “given.” CCTC’s interest in the land “won’t preclude other possibilities” for economic expansion at that location should they arise,” he said.

Hardee’s vision for CCTC’s Kershaw County campuses and part of the need for growth is an intention to make the Kershaw County sites more complete in the courses and eventual programs they offer.

“We want students to be able to earn a two-year degree in Kershaw County without having to come to the Sumter campus,” Hardee stated. “Tuition is high everywhere. CCTC is cost-saving for students who want a two year degree, and a four-year degree.”

Along with offering more than 60 programs of study, CCTC also is part of a “bridge program” with several of South Carolina’s four-year universities, like the University of South Carolina (USC), where course work taken at CCTC transfers for credit at USC.

CCTC also works with Francis Marion University’s nursing program where specific courses transfer, Hardee said.

“Columbia College also offers course work on our campus,” he added.

Another realm of education that CCTC has expanded into is in offering college credit courses to high school students. “Students can save major money” by participating in this opportunity, Hardee said.

Kershaw County School District (KCSD) Superintendant Dr. Frank Morgan is much in support of expanding CCTC in Kershaw County and sees great benefit in the work already done in the county by the school.

“The graduates have told me how beneficial that was. The second thing that’s so beneficial is that a student can walk out of Kershaw County with a semester or more of college credits. From a money-saving standpoint, that is huge,” Morgan said.

KCSD Communications Director Mary Anne Byrd also supports CCTC’s mission in Kershaw County. Byrd said the courses offered to high school students from CCTC have been “well-received by parents, students, and staff. We are able to offer students college credit and that’s a good partnership for our school to have.”

Morgan also praised the partnership between KCSD and CCTC.

“If you look at partnerships around the state, we have one of the strongest school district/technical college relationships in South Carolina … it’s not just dual enrollment classes which is huge and significant, they also work with our adult ed program to get young people finishing their GEDs on to the next stage of their education,” Morgan said.

He said that last year “we had 70 people with their GED diplomas, which is a new record for us.” Morgan said that CCTC has played a major role “in preparing these students to further their education” as well.

While Morgan is certainly interested in working with CCTC to offer even more educational opportunities to Kershaw County students, he also wants to see the county become more involved.

“I’d like to see us partner more with the county on economic development issues. In other words, how can we as a school district, as a technical college, support the county’s efforts to bring in business and industry here in the county?” Morgan said.

Both Morgan and Hardee emphasize that CCTC wants to work hand-in-hand with the county’s efforts at economic growth and development. Hardee said CCTC offers programs in conjunction with the school district’s Applied Technology Education Campus that “have students see career paths in the courses they are taking and have the opportunity for it to occur in Kershaw County.”

“We are developing the work force in Kershaw County,” Hardee added. “A part of attracting new industry comes from being able to provide a trained workforce.”

Hardee sees himself and CCTC as being invested in the future of Kershaw County students.

“The college is committed to the Kershaw County community,” he said, adding that the CCTC/KCSD partnership is one of the way of showing that commitment. “We have reached an agreement where the graduating class of 2015 from (the) Kershaw County School District -- as long as they started there in the ninth grade and graduated on time with (at least) a C average -- each student is guaranteed a two-year scholarship to Central Carolina.”

Hardee added that the students must also “test ready for college classes” to receive the scholarship.

“We want Kershaw County students to come to us,” he said. “We’re offering full tuition, not including books, for any of our 60 programs of study” to KCSD class of 2015 graduates who meet the criteria.

“Kershaw County is moving forward, it’s growing. We want to be the choice of higher education” for the county, Hardee said. “It’s just a matter of coming up with a solution. We need the facility.”

Hardee said CCTC could potentially have “1,000 students a day, taking courses at the Exit 98 site,” but can’t yet with the limited space.

“We would like to push economic development for Kershaw County. Higher education is a need in the county. We want to expand our services.”

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