Wake Tech leaders see record enrollment, more expenses

Posted March 24, 2011 5:53 p.m. EDT
Updated March 24, 2011 6:32 p.m. EDT

— Wake Technical Community College officials estimate they will need an additional $331 million to accommodate an enrollment that is projected to reach more than 100,000 students in the next five years.

Recent numbers show there are a record 63,000 people taking courses on campus and online with Wake Tech.

Students on campus are noting the growth. Clarence Witherspoon, who is studying sports science, said it was so difficult to get a spot in the computer lab that he ended up buying his own laptop.

Computers terminals aren’t the only thing in short supply at Wake Tech. Parking spaces are also tough to find.

“Beginning of the year, I was able to get here about 20 minutes before class. No problem. Last semester (and) this semester, I have to get here an hour early just to find a parking space,” English major Taylor Manning said.

Wake Tech President Stephen Scott said the school sees the demand from students. He said more than 9,000 students this year “ended up on the waiting list and could not get the courses they wanted.”

Scott spoke to the school’s Board of Trustees and the Wake County Board of Commissioners about what hurdles the school is facing.

“It’s always going to be a challenge to come up with the money, especially during touch economic times, but training students for new jobs helps bring new businesses here,” Commissioner Paul Coble said.

To get the estimated $331 million needed to fund the enrollment growth, Scott said he believes the school will need to go before Wake County voters with a bond referendum.

Scott said he hopes a referendum could go before voters sometime in the next two years.

Voters approved a $92 million bond referendum for Wake Tech in 2007.