State Community Colleges Face Cuts In Funding
Posted February 7, 2003 4:18 a.m. EST
RALEIGH, N.C. — Job cuts are landing many people back in class. They are turning to the more affordable community colleges to sharpen skills and learn new trades. Each year, more than 750,000 students enroll in the state's 59
, and lawmakers are asking if the colleges can do the work more efficiently.
Tina Parker, an unemployed mother of three, is working on her business degree at Edgecombe Community College.
"I feel real comfortable here. The faculty, the staff, the instructors are easy going. They're very comfortable, easy to talk to," Parker said.
The schools are doing some talking of their own right now. With the state's economy down, enrollment is way up at many campuses. Despite those figures, officials said some community colleges may have their budgets cut.
"Anytime you have high unemployment, people go back to school to try to seek new avenues of employment," said Katherine Johnson, president of Nash Community College. "When the economy's good, people have jobs. They don't come and enroll, so it's kind of a vicious cycle when you look at the fiscal issues of the state."
Some school leaders believe the colleges make up for their cost by training workers close to home. They said now is not the time to fix something that is not broken.
"I would like for the present system to remain in effect for the organization and administration," said Hartwell Fuller, president of Edgecombe Community College.
Budget cuts are not the only concern at small community colleges. Some are worried they will have to merge with a larger school.
"Any idea of consolidation, it concerns our citizens, so I do not believe it is anything that will work effectively for this area," said Mary Wyatt, president of Roanoke-Chowan Community College.
Out of nearly 60 community colleges in North Carolina, officials claim only two campuses did not take on more students this year.