Colleges: Dividing the state budget pie

Like other state agencies, the state’s community college system is dealing with mounting state budget cuts while at the same time absorbing soaring enrollments.

Community colleges are looking at a 3 percent cut for fiscal 2012, according to Gov. Haley Barbour’s budget proposals released Nov. 15. for a system that has increased enrollment by 31 percent since 2007, but better than the 10 percent budget reduction the system took in FY 2011.

“There is just terrific strain on our system,” said Eric Clark, executive director of the State Board for Community and Junior Colleges. “People generally come to a community college during a recession. Last school year, we had a 15 percent-plus enrollment increase and a 10 percent budget cut at the same time.”

The state’s 15 community colleges have an enrollment of 88,800 students this fall with enrollment increasing 53.6 percent since 2000. The community colleges also provide work-force training and adult basic education to about 150,000 people each year.

Clarion Ledger