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Definition of Adequate

[469] June 14, 2000


Dr. Ted H. Gasper, Jr. President Halifax Community College

P.O. Drawer 809 Weldon, North Carolina 27890

Re: Advisory Opinion; Definition of Term “Adequate;” N.C. Gen. Stat. § 115D-32

Dear Dr. Gasper:

Our office has been informed by Ms. Clay Hines of the North Carolina Community College System of your request for an opinion from our office on the meaning of the word “adequate” as used in N.C. Gen. Stat. § 115D-32(a). This statute provides: “The tax-levying authority of each institution shall be responsible for providing, in accordance with the provisions of G.S. 115D-33 or 115D-34, as appropriate, adequate funds to meet the financial needs of the institutions for the following budget items.” N.C. Gen. Stat. § 115D-32(a) (1999). The statute then identifies these budget items as a plant fund, certain current expenses, and certain support services. Id.

Unfortunately, neither N.C. Gen. Stat. § 115D-32 (the particular statute in question), Article 3 of Chapter 115D of the General Statutes (which pertains to financial support for community colleges), nor Chapter 115D (which pertains generally to community colleges) defines the term “adequate” as used in § 115D-32(a). Compare, e.g., N.C. Gen. Stat. § 115D-2 (1999) (defines certain other terms used in Chapter 115D). In another context, however, the North Carolina Supreme Court has defined “adequate” as meaning “sufficient to meet specific requirements.” State v. Clark, 234

N.C. 192, 194, 66 S.E.2d 669 (N.C. 1951). Other secondary sources and references provide a similar definition. Black’s Law Dictionary defines “adequate” as “sufficient; commensurate; equally efficient; equal to what is required; suitable to the case or occasion; satisfactory.” Black’s Law Dictionary 38 (6th ed. 1990). The American Heritage College Dictionary defines “adequate” as “sufficient to meet a need.” The American Heritage College Dictionary 16 (3d ed. 1993).

In our opinion, the term “adequate” as used in N.C. Gen. Stat. § 115D-32(a) would be given a similar definition by the North Carolina courts. The adequacy of the funds provided to a community college pursuant to § 115D-32(a), in our opinion, would be determined by the degree to which these funds meet the financial needs of that college for the budget items identified in the statute, which is necessarily a factintensive inquiry. Consequently, please note that this office does not — indeed, cannot – opine on the adequacy of the funds actually being provided to Halifax Community College pursuant to N.C. Gen. Stat. § 115D-32(a).

We hope that this advisory opinion is of assistance.

Signed by:

Grayson G. Kelley Senior Deputy Attorney General

Thomas J. Ziko Special Deputy Attorney General

Donald R. Esposito, Jr. Assistant Attorney General

cc: Clay T. Hines, Esq. (via facsimile and regular U.S. mail)