Local News

Budget cuts could mean enrollment cap at Wake Tech

Posted June 4, 2009 6:07 p.m. EDT
Updated June 4, 2009 6:58 p.m. EDT

— State budget cuts could force Wake Technical Community College in Raleigh to turn away students.

This school year, the school enrolled 10,000 more students than the previous year. If that trend continues and the budget cuts are deep enough, school administrators have said that they might have to put a cap on enrollment.

Budget proposals vary, but the community college system budget could be cut as much as 11 percent in the state House's spending plan. The governor and the Senate's have proposed cutting less.

Wake Tech administrators have said they are already asking instructors to teach extra courses without extra pay.

Depending on how much is cut, students, many of whom want to learn new job skills after losing their jobs, could be turned away.

"I'd be devastated," said Richard Rudy, who was laid off from his job as an architectural salesman and has been taking classes at Wake Tech. "This is, essentially, what I'm looking at as a ticket for the next 10 to 15 months of my working career."

But House leaders have said that an 11 percent cut is less than the reductions considered for other parts of state government.

"Everybody has to share in the pain and receive some cuts," House Speaker Pro Tem William Wainwright, D-Craven, said.

A big proponent of the community college system, Gov. Bev Perdue also acknowledges that tough decisions have to be made.

"It's never been like this before," she said Thursday. "(These budget cuts are) historic in North Carolina."

"Who would you fire? Would you fire 600 community college and university professors and teachers or would you displace 600 guards in the correction system?" she added. "Where are the priorities for us as a people?"