The numbers are in from across the state and it is clear that community and technical colleges are doing more with less, lots more with lots less.
Committees form subgroup for budget and planning work
To help chart a course for implementing likely budget cuts in the coming year, the Budget and Strategic Planning committees have formed a subgroup to make recommendations and assist college administrators.
The subgroup had an initial meeting Thursday, Nov. 12, with SCC President Lee Lambert and the senior executive team to review goals. The subgroup is scheduled to meet on its own four additional times in November.
No definitive deadline for the subgroup was set, with Vice President for Administrative Service Daryl Campbell acknowledging the broad set of variables surrounding budget issues.
Subgroup members are: Mary Keleman, Kira Wennstrom, Larry Fuell, Mary Bonar, Gillian Lewis, Chip Dodd, Susan Hoyne and Angela Atkinson.
Community and technical colleges continue to be part of the solution to Washington’s economic recovery with people turning to two-year colleges in record numbers. The latest numbers from fall quarter 2009 show that enrollments are up 16 percent above the state-funded level. At the same time, that state-funded level is down 11 percent.
At Shoreline Community College, enrollment this fall is up 9 percent over the fall 2008 number, which was itself a significant increase over fall 2007. Enrollment for summer quarter 2009 showed a 16.4 percent over the previous year.
“Those are huge increases, but they could’ve been even more staggering considering that we turned away hundreds of students due to lack of financial support,” said Tonya Drake, Vice President of Student Success at Shoreline. “We could’ve served so many more, but the money just ran out.”
While the enrollment numbers at Shoreline and around the state are big, the financial aid numbers are eye-popping.
“Requests for federal student loans are up 52 percent,” Drake said. “The amount of federal aid granted and available to students for fall quarter was up 65 percent, more than $1 million.”
According to officials at the State Board of Community and Technical Colleges, this surge of students is stretching the system to the breaking point. While community and technical colleges have a long history of meeting their students’ and communities’ needs, it is increasingly difficult to serve everyone who walks through the door.
State officials say colleges have tried to shield instructional expenses from cuts while slicing deeply in other areas. Faculty members are taking more students into classes and foregoing professional development plans. Many colleges used one-time federal stimulus package money, hoping to bridge a gap that continues to grow. Those efforts, officials say, have allowed the system to serve an additional 31,000 people across the state who otherwise would’ve been turned away.
Officials say that all those efforts have used up any “give” in the system. Currently, colleges have exhausted all cost-cutting efforts, classes are as crammed as they can get, waitlists are growing larger, and financial aid is largely tapped out, they say.
Still, things may not get better anytime soon.
At Shoreline’s recent all-campus meeting, Vice President for Administrative Service Daryl Campbell said more cuts should be expected to come out of the pending legislative session. “We’ve been told, the best-case scenario will likely be a 6 percent reduction, about $1.2 million for SCC,” Campbell said. “The worst case-scenario could be as much as 12 percent.”