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Community colleges could be hit hard by budget cuts

Posted May 20, 2009
Updated August 30, 2009

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— The state budget for the 2009-10 fiscal year could include $1.8 billion in education cuts. Community colleges could feel the biggest pinch.

Members of the House Education Appropriations Committee must come up with ways to make the cuts, including taking funds away from community colleges at a time when more people are enrolling due to the recession.

“This kind of budget cut will affect every child, will affect every family, will in the end affect every citizen negatively,” said Rep. Rick Glazier, D-Cumberland.

In normal times, 60,000 people enroll at Wake Tech every year, but community college enrollment rises when the economy turns down. Enrollment is already up 14 percent this spring compared with the same time in 2008 as people seek new skills they can take to the job market.

“I have been working in the community college system since 1972, and I have never seen anything like this before,” said Dr. Steve Scott, president of Wake Tech Community College.

From community colleges to public schools, the cuts lawmakers are proposing could be drastic.

“At the public school level, this would mean the cut of 10,000 or more personnel, teachers, teachers' assistants, clerical staff, maintenance,” said Glazier, who co-chairs the House Appropriations Committee.

Community college tuition waivers in jeopardy Community college tuition waivers in jeopardy

Community colleges usually get about a third of their funding from the state. Cuts being proposed for community colleges include possibly merging some schools, eliminating some scholarship programs and eliminating the tuition waiver for the dual-enrollment program.

“We're looking to have to cut 11 percent from education this year, and 14 percent next year,” Glazier said.

Scott said the cuts being proposed for community colleges are around $129 million. That is equivalent, he said, to closing 14 of the smaller community colleges or merging the two largest schools, which are Central Piedmont and Wake Tech.

Kyle Thompson is among those who found success through Wake Tech's dual-enrollment program. He credits the program with helping him settle on a college major.

“Wake Tech made a big difference,” he said. “I'm going into aerospace engineering at North Carolina State University, and the math courses and physics courses help me see that."

The House Education Appropriations Committee will continue budget talks Thursday at 8:30 a.m. The focus will be on the state's university system and more recommendations about where and how much to cut.


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  • Here kitty kitty May 21, 2009

    No collie-dave, they are unemployed people taking non-credit classes to learn new skills or upgrade current skills but they do not wish to earn a degree, they just want a job. It's seniors who want to learn a language, or learn to use a computer. It's folks who want to get their GED. It people who want to learn how to be a substitute teacher or a certified nursing assistant. We teach CPR, EMT, and motorcycle safety course. So don't knock us. You'll be glad were here when you need to take a course to get your unemployment benefits.

  • Nancy May 21, 2009

    But let's keep Mary Easley and her inflated salary while the community colleges do a yeoman's job on a shoestring budget.

    College is affordable for so many through community colleges - so let's put them on a restricted budget during hard times.

    Ya, that makes sense, in a politicians mind but no one elses.

  • aspenstreet1717 May 21, 2009

    I am a college sports fan but there is no way on earth community colleges will make a dime from sports.They may break even that's the most that could be hoped for.

  • JimF May 21, 2009

    I hope that everyone is happy with the Hope and Change that they voted for...

  • squawk08 May 21, 2009

    No one is talking about the extra expenses that the community colleges are incurring thanks to the Learn and Earn program or the Huskins program, where high school kids take college courses for free. This is really draining the system also. Face it for the value of education that the community colleges offers, its easy to see why people are now going there instead of a regular 4 year university. With federal financial aid a person can attend a community college debt free. There should be an expansion of online courses, I once worked for a community college and the administrators voted against having more online courses, they said it would result in cuts to instructors, well take a look at the way things are now. Of course what are all these college graduates going to do in today's economy? Soon we will have associate degree holders at the drive thrus of McDonalds or ringing us up at Wal Mart.

  • DeathRow-IFeelYourPain-NOT May 21, 2009

    Maybe to save money, they should switch to a YR Calendar like our awesome school board has done in Wake. It is fantastic in Wake. Right time4real?

  • oldfirehorse May 21, 2009

    Anyway, my point was not to debate college athletics benefits vs. cost. It was to express my opinion about what they are going to do to the primary education structure. Local school systems haven't even had a chance to try to adjust to cuts already made. The coming two years of budget cuts, I believe, will cause them to pretty much melt down all together. Heard anything about closing the state parks? Maybe even quit planting/tending the lovely gardens along thousands of miles of NC highways? Nope, but, it's ok fine to take hundreds of millions out of education. 6,000 lost teacher positions, 10,000 aggregate teacher/support. Yesiree, we'll have those kids taught right now! Just make the classes reaaalllly big like the good ole days (the popular thought in here). That will solve everything.

  • oldfirehorse May 21, 2009

    "Actually - the athletics dept is funded by ticket sales, student fees, and donations either done privately or through corporations." - endquote ---------- Sorry, doesn't even scratch the surface on the total expense.

  • tiggerjd3 May 21, 2009

    If they keep cutting funds for Public Education, our children do not stand a chance. We are already low on the national average, do they want us to be at the very bottom. Also, when they say they are cutting Teacher Assistants, well what about in counties where the TA is required to drive a bus. You have to have sub drivers when the regular drivers are out. Do you think that the Principle's will drive a route. Whats next, all Principles and Teachers and Assistant Principles will have to obtain thier CDL's to help out the budget by driving bus routes. This state needs to start using their brain, and get rid of the ones that are taking undeserved money. If this keeps up, in 5 years this state will be lost.

  • tran May 21, 2009

    We got money to fight wars and maintain military bases all over the world. And yet, funding to community colleges is being cut just as we're in the midst of the worst recession in most people's lifetimes.

    A few years back, tuition at community colleges was going to be free. What happened to that?

    A few years back, there was a big uproar over a proposal to allow illegal immigrants to attend college for free. That seems to have disappeared down the memory hole.

    Now that we've lost so many jobs, retail has contracted and tax revenues have shriveled, hard choices are being made. As usual, working people are paying the price.