Many community colleges around the country are looking for ways to expand as their student enrollment continues to increase.
Community colleges across the country are growing by leaps and bounds for a variety of reasons. Some displaced workers are returning to school to gain additional training in industries that are currently hiring. High school graduates who are unable to afford tuition at a four-year university are now looking to community colleges as a viable option – at least in the short term. Finally, the focus on community colleges by President Obama has resulted in more Americans considering this option for continuing their education.
While growth at community colleges is good news for the schools and students nationwide, the additional enrollment has posed a problem for some schools that simply don’t have the space to accommodate a larger student body. The answer for some has been to look for ways to expand their campuses to allow for more classrooms and more student opportunities. We’ll take a look at a handful of the community colleges that are preparing for the expansion process this year.
Location, Location: New River Community College Looking for a Place to Expand
New River Community College is one school that is literally bursting at the seams. According to a report in the Bluefield Daily Telegraph, this West Virginia school is feeling the growing pains of an expanding student body. The school is eyeing a number of locations in the community to grow their current campus they share with Mercer County Technical Education Center on Stafford Drive.
“We need extra space,” dean of New River Community College, Steven Wise, told the Telegraph. “We are growing and we want to serve a lot of new people in Mercer County. It’s been our goal since we came to Princeton to expand our campus. It is part of our master plan to have our own campus.”
While the school is looking at a number of locations, a definite solution to the expansion problem has yet to be determined. The mayor of Princeton, Patricia Wilson, told the Telegraph, “We don’t know where they would be looking to relocate, whether it would be downtown or somewhere else in the Princeton area, but we are excited to see this happening. Hopefully, we are offering people an opportunity to stay here in Princeton and developing business opportunities for them as well.”
Branching Out to Begin Soon at Pitt Community College
Pitt Community College also needs to find some growing room – sooner, rather than later, according to college officials. A report at Reflector.com says that the board of trustees for Pitt have already met to approve the recommendations by a task force on the best locations for expansion. The primary focus of the initial research has been the Winterville campus, but the board plans to look at similar options for the Ayden and Grifton areas as well.
Part of the goal of the Pitt Community College expansion is to reach more rural students in North Carolina, by offering class locations that are more convenient for them. Students living in these areas lack the necessary transportation to get to current class locations, and the school wants to offer options that will make for easier access for these students.
“Therefore, the goal is to establish a site that is easily accessible in the local community and has a visible presence,” president of Pitt Community College Dennis Massey told Reflector.com. “The task force also recommends offering a large enough variety of courses that so a student can become eligible for financial aid.”
Kirkwood Community College Asks Voters to Fund Expansion
Kirkwood Community College needs more space, but funding for expansion is tight. To fund the additional room, college officials are asking Iowa voters to extend current bond activity that would give the school the funding it needs to accommodate more students. The extension would go on for 15 more years, although many believe the school will need to ask for even more time on the extension to receive all the additional funding needed to complete the expansion.
According to a report at KCRG-TV, the current bond authority costs homeowners about 20 cents on every $1,000 in assessed home value. For a house valued at $100,000, the total additional tax comes to less than $10 each year.
“It’s not a tax increase, it’s a continuation of a tax that’s already there,” Todd Prusha, Dean of Distance Learning for Kirkwood, told KCRG. The bond issue is included on a ballot that will be voted on this week.
Ivy Tech Just Keeps Growing
Ivy Tech moved their Montgomery Instructional Center to a larger location in 2006 to accommodate additional students. In five short years, the school has once again outgrown their current space and is looking for the funds needed to expand the campus once again. According to a report at Inside Indiana Business, the school has found the money it needs to grow, through funding offered by the City of Crawfordsville and Montgomery County. The entities have agreed to share the cost of the expansion with Ivy Tech to ensure Indiana students can continue to get the classes they need to complete their higher education.
“Ivy Tech offers several avenues for growth,” Montgomery County Commissioner Phil Bane told Inside Indiana. “First, it has the potential to keep county students here and to draw others from surrounding communities. Secondly, Ivy Tech will raise the education level of Montgomery County citizens and make our community more attractive to new businesses.”
Community colleges continue to grow across the country as higher education at these institutions becomes more popular. With bigger campuses and more classes, these schools can accommodate all the students who want postsecondary education, but can’t afford tuition rates at four-year universities.