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NC Community Colleges Hit Stumbling Block

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WILSON — An unexpectely high enrollment at community colleges has everyone scrambling to make room. They want to build new classrooms, but those plans have hit a stumbling block on several campuses due to a lack of money.

Wilson Tech has about 1,700 full- and part-time students. It has 17 percent more full-time students on campus than last year and little space to put them.

"At registration when you register, a lot of them are filled up in just a short period of time," says student Amanda Baker.

"It's extra hard. You get classes, but they're not the classes you need to start you off right, but you have to do what you have to do in order to continue," says student Brandy Mitchell.

Community colleges have seen steady growth in the last decade, but as the economy went sour last spring, enrollment jumped to 10 percent systemwide.

"One would tend to think that with some of the layoffs we've experienced that people are coming back to school for training and re-training," says Dr. Cleve Cox, vice president of curriculum and instruction.

The state's bond program for classroom buildings was based on an average 4-percent annual growth, so while a new building is planned on the campus, it will have to wait.

"The problem we're running into is the money is coming so slowly," says president Dr. Frank Eagles.

Martin Lancaster, president of the North Carolina Community College System, is asking state lawmakers to sell the bonds sooner, and in the process, get the money in the system faster.


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