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CCC&TI looks to cash-strapped state for more funding

Article Published: Dec. 17, 2009 | Modified: Sep. 7, 2011

Caldwell Community College & Technical Institute is asking the state for more money in the wake of rising enrollment.

CCC&TI's Board of Trustees voted to send a letter to Gov. Beverly Perdue, signed by chairman Larry Taylor, seeking full funding. Community colleges were among the many victims of state budget cuts in the wake of a declining economy, with a 5 percent cut imposed for the current fiscal year.

Perdue had authority to revert more funds to colleges, and eventually reduced the cut to 3 percent. But CCC&TI president Ken Boham said that wasn't enough because the economy is creating a big jump in enrollment.

For the fall semester, enrollment in the Caldwell and Watauga campuses jumped 600 students, or 14 percent. "Our staff and faculty are teaching over loads without additional pay and we have increased class sizes just to accommodate this growth," Taylor wrote. "We want to be able to meet the demands anticipated in the spring semester."

Boham said the 5 percent cut amounted to $1.4 million, so any relief was welcome. However, he said the tone of the letter was to express gratitude for the 2 percent while also pointing out the enrollment surge.

"We'll probably have 1,000 more students than last spring," Boham said, with total enrollment usually running around 5,000 students. About a third of those attend classes at the Watauga campus on the N.C. 105 Bypass.

"We're still reeling," Boham said. "It's tough. We'll make it but we've got 16 staff members teaching classes and each is taking on an extra class with no additional pay. We've also raised the cap on class size, which was 25 students per class."

Taylor's letter acknowledged the economy, but asked for Perdue's consideration for the community college's role as "workforce delivery system for the state."

Boham said the economic climate was one of the primary reasons for increased enrollment. "I wouldn't wish this economy on anybody, but that's one thing that's coming out of it," Boham said.

"The economy is pushing folks into community colleges to get training for jobs, and we're the first choice for that reason. There's also some (unemployment benefit) money available for retraining, so that's brought students back as well."

Boham said the 3 percent difference could help hire part-time instructors for the spring semester. Perdue has the authority to provide the funding through an executive order.

"While the reduction will help, we are still underfunded and face many challenges with growing demand and reducing appropriations," Taylor wrote Perdue. "I feel that if you could, you would have returned the full 5 percent. If that is possible, as we move forward into spring semester, it would certainly enhance our capabilities to serve our counties."

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