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Community colleges look to cut summer classes

Posted January 28, 2009
Updated March 9, 2009

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— Tight budgets could force many of North Carolina's community colleges to eliminate courses this summer, despite rising enrollments.

Enrollment is up 7 percent statewide – about 12,000 students – from a year ago, and Durham Technical Community College officials said their spring enrollment topped their fall numbers for the first time in at least 20 years.

Students at Durham Tech, community college students Students might lose option of summer school

Many of the new students have returned to school to pick up new skills after being laid off.

Keyon Covington and Morey Penn had each been laid off twice in the last six months and were studying environmental technology at Durham Tech with the hope of landing jobs in Durham.

"I'm just ready to work hard – ready to work, ready to get paid," Covington said. "(Being laid off) is very frustrating because, even though the job stops, the bills continue to come."

"I just wanted to do something, learn something new and just see where it takes me," Penn said. "I'm very grateful because, without this right now, I'd probably be a little more depressed."

The students might not have classes to attend in the summer, though, because Durham Tech and other schools could drop courses to save money.

The state already has cut funding to campuses to help ease its budget deficit, and counties facing tight budgets also have reduced their support for community colleges.

State funding doesn't cover summer classes, except for work force development courses geared toward employees at specific companies, said Kennon Briggs, executive vice president of the North Carolina Community College System.

Colleges are looking for ways to make a summer schedule work, and many will likely offer only courses that are in such demand that tuition alone could support them, Briggs said.

Durham Tech will likely offer classes that students need to graduate and cut ones that students take in summer school only to pick up extra credits, President Bill Ingram said.

"There's no road map for these kind of situations," Ingram said. "We are looking very carefully at our summer schedule, and we'll be offering a much more pared-down schedule than we have in past years."

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  • Bob3425 Jan 29, 2009

    I rateher see the big schools lose funding before the community colleges, their the best buy for the money. They provide the technician we need, the do'er not the manager. Working in the IT field I alway hire the person who has an AA degree from a Community College with some hands on experiences than someone from a four year school that a little or no hand-on but expect to start at the top of the latter because they have a BS degree.

  • sst100 Jan 28, 2009

    colliedave- Again, I don't think you understand anything about education funding...

    Here is a simple version- nowhere does tuition pay all of the costs of instruction. Even at private schools, tuition may pay 60-70% of the institutional costs. At public universities and community colleges, there are state and federal mandates regarding programs to be offered, financial assistance, gender-equity programming, early college, and the like. It is not like 20 students in the class are directly paying one instructor to teach them. What about equipment costs? What about facility costs? It is far more involved than it may seem.

    No, community colleges especially do not continue to offer courses where there is limited demand. Courses are canceled if enrollments are low. Our programs CONSTANTLY have to justify their existence by stable or increasing enrollment, projected job growth and the like.

  • colliedave Jan 28, 2009

    colliedave- Perhaps you should comment on topics which you understand.

    Why should an insitution fund a course where there is limited demand? If the course is needed for a degree, those who need the class should pay the instructor acording to the number of students in the class.

  • sst100 Jan 28, 2009

    colliedave- Perhaps you should comment on topics which you understand.

    As a person affiliated with the community college system, I can tell you that community colleges only offer courses in the summer that are needed to complete programs (like nursing, law enforcement, and the like). Very few elective courses are offered, even for university transfer students, and very few sections of even required courses are available. Funding guidelines from the state only apply to fall and spring semesters....we have to teach three terms worth of classes after receiving state funding for two.

    Continuing education classes are different- perhaps in your feeble attempt at humor, you were referring to courses that are offered for no credit but are taken by some of our students. "Basketweaving" (and EMT classes and nursing assistant classes and EKG classes and other "meaningless" classes) are funded differently.

  • colliedave Jan 28, 2009

    Colleges are looking for ways to make a summer schedule work, and many will likely offer only courses that are in such demand that **tuition alone** could support them, Briggs said.

    And why is this a bad thing? Is there a need for courses on "Blind Underwater Basketweaving I and II?"

  • pattip574 Jan 28, 2009

    I am about to graduate with a degree in ASL interpreting, and we had to go to school over the summer. It's a 5 semester program. Does this mean the program will be stretched out to a 3rd fall? That's not right... I hope they come up with a resolution for my underclassmen.

  • whatelseisnew Jan 28, 2009

    The solution is simple. Increase the tuition by the same amount that the state is cutting. Apparently, the fact that the state is in debt and already spends more than it takes in every year is not sinking in.

  • beachboater Jan 28, 2009

    This is one area that should NOT be cut. If people are honestly trying to earn life and work skills, they should be fast tracked, not held back.

  • protestthis Jan 28, 2009

    Ain't it great - unemployed then expecting to be able to take classes to help find a new job - only to find out that the school can't offer you the classes you need due to funding issues
    Great stuff.. and they want to cut more out of the education budget.

  • shaggingmomma Jan 28, 2009

    How will the schools that offer Nursing programs handle this? It will be interesting to see.